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Posted on: March 18, 2020

The Evils of Garlic Mustard

garlic_mustard_flowering

Introduced from Europe originally as a food plant, this species is a serious concern in forests across North America. If you have it growing in your yard, pull it, bag it and dispose of it. Do not compost it. 

In our area it often remains green in winter (as a low-growing rosette of leaves) then shoots up in April and flowers. 

It is difficult to control once it has reached a site; it can cross-pollinate or self-pollinate, it has a high seed production rate, it out competes native vegetation and it can establish in a relatively stable forest understory. It can grow in dense shade or sunny sites. The fact that it is self fertile means that one plant can occupy a site and produce a seed bank. Plant stands can produce more than 62,000 seeds per square meter to quickly out compete local flora, changing the structure of plant communities on the forest floor. Garlic mustard is also allelopathic, producing chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants and mychorrizal fungi needed for healthy tree growth and tree seedling survival. The crushed leaves smell like garlic and although edible for people, it is not eaten by local wildlife or insects. 

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