Alliaria petiolata (Garlic Mustard)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, shade; woods, edges of woods, along roads|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||1 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in a rounded cluster 1 to 3 inches across, at the top of the plant. Individual flowers are about 1/3 inch across, 4 rounded white petals and short green stamens with greenish yellow tips. The cluster elongates as the plant matures.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves in second year plants are up to 3 inches long and wide, generally kidney to heart shaped with large rounded irregular teeth and leaf stalks that become shorter as leaves ascend the stem. Leaves at the top of the plant are smaller and typically more triangular. The leaves smell like garlic when crushed. First year plants have just a rosette of smaller round or kidney shaped leaves with scalloped edges. Leaves may be hairless or hairy to varying degrees; stems are likewise hairy to varying degrees.
Garlic Mustard is a highly aggressive invasive species. One plant produces hundreds of seeds and can infest an area within just a few years. I've seen plants as short as 2 inches tall flower and bear fruit. It forms large colonies, crowding out native species and destroying habitat and food source for wildlife. It prefers the dappled sunlight of wooded areas, but may grow in sunnier locations. First year seedlings might be mistaken for violets or Creeping Charlie. Of note is that this species is far more widespread than the county distribution map indicates. For example, it is all over Ramsey County, but only a few herbarium records have been collected in the SW corner of the county. It is likely found throughout the SE part of the state, but few records have been collected so far.
In spring 2008 I discovered the first Garlic Mustard growing at Long Lake Regional Park and took on the job of trying to eradicate it before it became a blight. After 3 years of hand pulling, it was just about gone. :-) The bad news is, there is a big infestation across the railroad tracks on the north side of the park so it is only a matter of time before there is another invasion, one too big for one person to handle. Heavy sigh.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Garlic Mustard plant, about 2 feet tall
- an infestation of Garlic Mustard
- more infestation
- first year seedlings sprouting up
- flowering plants a few inches tall
Photos taken at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Coon Rapids, MN May 2007 and 2008
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?