Garlic Mustard

Weather Report: All the rain that we had a week ago is just a memory. Another week has gone by and though we’ve had rain forecast almost every day, it always misses us. I’ve watered my new plants by hand a few times, but I think it’s time to break out the sprinkler. The temperature has been cool, highs in the mid 60’s (F) and lows in the upper 30’s to low 40’s. I was planning on planting containers this week, but perhaps I’ll wait until next week.

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Apple blossom time also means the beginning of Garlic Mustard season.  A couple of years ago, I rarely saw it in the area and I’m not sure I’d recognize it if I did see it. Now it seems to be everywhere. I’m appalled at how much of it I see around town, in the fields and woods. I even had a few in bloom in my own backyard.

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As usual, I spent Sunday at Mom’s house in the country. As I was driving in, I noticed several patches of the weed. I may be on a mission for the next few weekends to keep them from overrunning my childhood home.

I picked up a flier from the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy that had a lot of info on the plant.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), like most invasive species, is not native to the United States. It is native to Europe and was introduced to North America by early settlers for cooking and medicinal purposes. Because there are no natural enemies here, the plant can and does reproduce quickly, invading woodland areas and displacing native wild flowers and tree seedlings.

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The plant is a biennial, producing hundreds of seeds per plant. The flowers are small and white blooming at the end of stems that are between 1 and 4 feet tall. The leaves are identified by their heart-shaped large toothed appearance. If you see a plant but aren’t sure if it’s a garlic mustard plant, crush a leaf. It should have a distinctive garlic smell. 

According to the flyer, Garlic Mustard….

  • Displaces native woodland vegetation
  • Degrades wildlife habitat
  • Displaces rare plants
  • Can cause long term degradation of forests by shading out tree and shrub seedlings.

They are a problem plant from from the east coast to as far west as Utah, from lower Canada to as far south to the Carolinas.

It’s best to remove an infestation before it goes to seed. The suggested practice is to pull by hand, removing plants by starting with the least infested areas to the most infested areas.

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About Jill-O

a girl who likes lakes, trees and critters; making an attempt at living the artistic life.
This entry was posted in Michigan, nature, plants, spring and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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