Garlic Mustard Invading the Grounds

Wisconsin (and much of the eastern US) has been invaded by garlic mustard, a leafy green that chokes out native regional plants. Unfortunately, now that it is far enough along in spring, we have found garlic mustard cropping up throughout the institute grounds.

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The white flowers are tell-tale markers of the garlic mustard plants.

This small plant grows thickly in clumps, dropping seeds each fall. In the spring the seeds turn into nascent garlic mustard plants. By the second year, they have established roots and strong enough growth to flower and produce more seeds. The plants’ tight clustering and quick vertical growth don’t leave their neighboring plants with much of a chance to compete.

They are fairly easy to pull up by the roots, but it has to be done a few times, as they are supposed to be as pernicious as mint, which will be well known to anyone who has been foolhardy enough to let that beast loose without firm boundaries.

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Second or third year garlic mustard with its distinctive leaves and white flowers.

The site Edible Wild Food has a recipe for garlic mustard pesto, which might be at least some positive use out the hours spent on one’s hands and knees pulling out this interloper (besides the benefits to the surrounding ecology, of course).

You can find more information at the Wisconsin DNR webpage or the Natural Resources Conservation Service bulletin.


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