Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata / Alliaria officinalis)
Alliaria is the genus name referring to mustard, broccoli
and other species with four-petaled flowers.
|Photo: Le-thuy Do|
This particular weed name, petiolata, refers to the petiolate-type leaf stem. This is where we get Alliaria petiolata, or mustard-leaf.
So what is Alliaria officinalis? It's just a synonym.
If one is new to gardening this weed seems appealing because it not only looks nice, it is used for medicinal purposes. The leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible along with high in vitamins A and C. If that's not enough - eat a lot of it you have a free laxative!
That's the good, now for the bad - which outweighs the good.
|Photo: Kathryn Hewitt|
In it's first year seeds germinate from late February to mid-May. June into fall is the young, or Basal, stage where leafy rosettes begin to form. It runs low to the ground and begins to cluster. Clusters are dark green in color and leaves are kidney-shaped growing up to 4 inches wide.
Garlic mustard is found predominately in the eastern United States. In some areas the young weed can remain dormant over winter, whereas in other winter areas the weed leaves have the ability to photosynthesize all winter long, giving it a competitive advantage over most native species.
In it's second year surviving rosettes produce hairy leaf stalks that are erect with flowering stems. This happens in March for most areas. Growth is fast and stems grow up to 3 feet. The basal kidney-shaped leaves become more heart, or triangular-shaped as the plant matures.
From early April to early June, depending upon location is when flowering begins. Seeds are produced in pods and capable of self-pollination before flowers open. Cross-pollination occurs especially when weeds are wet and/or stick together. Seed pods are short, narrow and stand upright and ripen in mid June and pollinate through September.
Don't introduce garlic mustard to your garden or yard. Seeds can remain dormant for years. If introduced, the best management should be to focus on preventing seed from germinating.
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