Identifying Invasive Plants: Garlic Mustard

Recently I had the opportunity to go out in the woods with Eagle Eye Institute.  They were teaching students from our high school how to identify invasive plants in our area and remove them. This time we were focused on garlic mustard. 

Garlic Mustard in seed pod stage

Garlic Mustard in seed pod stage

Garlic mustard is invasive in North America. It puts out chemicals from its roots that inhibit growth in other plants, therefore, even though it is an edible herb, you don’t want to grow it in your garden. It is found throughout North American forests, and many deer will not eat it.  The deer eat the other plants in the area and the garlic mustard spreads even further.

First year garlic mustard

Our group learned that garlic mustard is different in its first and second years.  In the first year it has lots of small plants that spread across the ground.  In the second year it grows tall – I’ve seen it at 1 to 2 feet tall, but it can get as high as 3 feet. In the 2nd year it produces flowers, then they form a spike like shape at the top, where the seeds eventually come from.

It’s important to pull the plants before the speeds spread. Then, you have to pull them every year for 4-5 years, as the seeds can last up to 5 years in the ground. 

Pair of garlic mustard plants in the seed pod stage

Pair of garlic mustard plants in the seed pod stage

small 2nd year garlic mustard plant

A smaller garlic mustard plant getting ready to go to see

Looks like we will be pulling this from our yard for several more years to get rid of it.

Happy Invasive Pulling!



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  1. I luckily don’t have that in my yard, but would love to now how to get rid of swallow-wort. I pulled up a ton of it this weekend.

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