Garlic Mustard (alias; Alliaria petiolata)
OK, so there’s 11. We experienced a resurgence of Stiltgrass in 2015 and had to move it up on the list. We couldn’t bump Garlic Mustard, it’s everywhere. It’s probably lurking in your yard right now.
It takes two years for garlic mustard to fully mature and produce seeds, which germinate in February to early March and grow into a short rosette by the middle of the summer. It can be difficult to identify garlic mustard in the first year.
In the plant’s second year, a stalk develops and flowers form. The alternating stem leaves are triangular and have sharp teeth, with leaves becoming gradually smaller towards the top of the stalk. Leaf stalks of mature plants are hairy.
The easiest way to identify Garlic Mustard is by smelling the garlic odor produced when the leaves of the plant are mashed in your fingers, although the odor becomes less obvious with increasing age.
Garlic Mustard has spread throughout much of the United States over the past 150 years, becoming one of the worst invaders of forests in the American Northeast and Midwest. It is usually found in disturbed woodlands, parks, road and trail sides, edge habitats, and wetlands. It can also establish and spread itself in pristine areas.
Its adaptability has allowed it to become the dominant plant in the undergrowth of some forests, greatly reducing the diversity of all species. On average, one garlic mustard plant will produce well over 600 seeds per season. The seeds generally germinate within one to two years, but may remain viable for up to five years.
Eradication: That garlic smell keeps deer and woodchucks away and less than a dozen insects eat it. That leaves pulling it to you — or to us. This is most easily accomplished during the summer after a rain. Always get to it before the seeds have matured.
The roots are not deep and it is something a diligent homeowner can do if there isn’t a lot of it. It needs to be pulled up every time you see it for up to five years in order to deplete any established seed bank.
The best method for controlling Garlic Mustard or any other invasive plant is to prevent its establishment. We can help with the initial effort if you are over-run by it.