Garlic Mustard (Allaria petiolata)

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

I found just two Garlic Mustard plants in my garden this past week. This is the result of pulling the plant up year after year. It can be controlled by hand pulling. I use my Hori knife to get down to the roots and get as much of the plant out of the ground as possible. Garlic Mustard only spreads by seed, so removing the plant before it seeds, is the best way to eradicate it. The plants die after producing seed.

Garlic Mustard is an invasive species that pops up all over Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley. It was probably bought to North America by early European settlers.

I was in Fort Washington State Park last year on a bird walk and the plant was all over the place. It was in long groups along the trails. This was just the kind of place the plant thrives in shady areas and along streams.

The park workers and volunteers ripped the plants out but more seem to pop each year. Perhaps at some point it will be eradicated.  From what I understand if you keep pulling it up , after five years it should be gone. After five years the seeds that are in the ground are no longer viable and won’t grow.

The space and soil nutrients that Garlic Mustard uses, take from a native plant that could be there instead. The plant quickly dominates the an area crowding out others. A native plant such as Coral Bells or Virginia Bluebells would provide nectar and fit in with the natural ecosystem. Native plants such as ferns can be planted to fill in so Garlic Mustard can not re-establish itself.

I feel I am helping to restore and keep healthy the natural ecosystem that I live in.

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