Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wanted: Garlic Mustard

It looks innocent enough. But a delicate plant that's in bloom right now is silently wreaking HAVOC. Garlic mustard is a bully in the plant world. It was thought to have been brought over from Europe in the 1800's for cooking and medicinal purposes. Yep, it's edible and spreads fast, crowding out our native species. As a result, native insects that depend on native plants and flowers suffer as well.

We have some growing in the back portion of our property in the shade. It's a cool season biennial. The plant produces flowers in the second year of its life and then dies. So those plants flowering this year are in their terrible twos and will produce seeds.

Controlling this invasive plant requires timing and persistence. Year-old plants that will not produce a flower this year should be pulled up by the roots. Lay the pulled plants somewhere they can completely dry out before putting them in the compost bin. Flowers can be picked from the two-year-old plants. They will have to be burned or thrown away as the seeds can survive for quite a while.

For more info, check out the USDA's National Invasive Species Information Center at

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