Grab Your Gardening Gloves, It’s Garlic Mustard Season!

by Andrea Foster, Conservation Outreach Coordinator

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Whether you are the most seasoned of gardeners or a total novice, keep reading. This is everything you need to know about this awful little plant – and how to keep it at bay this year so your native plants can grow!

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one bad seed. It comes alive and sprouts much earlier than other plants in the spring, and can quickly take over a large area if left untreated. The roots also secrete poisons that kill the fungi our native plants need to survive. Its small green rosettes are easy enough to pull if you get them right as they start to come up, and garlic mustard is virtually impossible to treat with chemicals since it has such a long and deep taproot. If left unchecked the taproot gets deeper and much harder to pull.

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The seeds from a flowering plant can lie dormant for twenty months, and then they are viable for a full 5-8 years. This is why once you spot it and start pulling it, you may have to keep pulling it from your gardens and lawns for at least that many years.

If you aren’t sure whether or not the plant you have is garlic mustard, there’s always the crush and sniff test. The leaves of Garlic Mustard smell like garlic when crushed, and they taste like it as well!

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Below is a short clip showing how to pull the garlic mustard that sprouts in your yard. After it is pulled, it’s recommended that you burn it, or put it in a black garbage bag left in the sun for a few months to effectively kill it. Or, if you want to try something different you can always eat it! Here are some recipes that include Garlic Mustard.

For more information on invasive species like Garlic Mustard, click here. You can also check out the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network.  If you live in the Midland, Gladwin or Clare, MI area, you can always email afoster@littleforks.org with more questions, or call 989.835.4886.

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