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Garlic mustard

Quick facts

Garlic mustard is an invasive species

  • Garlic mustard is an herbaceous plant found in the understory of high-quality woodlands, upland and floodplain forests and disturbed areas.
  • It inhibits beneficial fungi associated with native plants, causing a decline in herbaceous vegetation within five to seven years.

Garlic mustard should be reported. Learn how to report invasive species in Minnesota. 

patch of garlic mustard growing in woods.

How to identify garlic mustard

  • Biennial herbaceous plant; forms a rosette in the first year, one to six inches tall; grows to one to four feet high in its second and flowering year.

  • Often the only plant of this height blooming white in wooded environments in May.

Stem

  • Weak single stems.

Leaves

  • Dark green leaves are round with a scalloped edge.

  • Second year plants have alternate leaves. Leaves and stems smell like onion or garlic when crushed.

  • Leaves remain green throughout the winter.

Flowers

  • Numerous small, white flowers with four separate petals are present on second year plants.

Seeds

  • Slender capsules, one to two and one half inches long, containing a single row of oblong black seeds.
  • Seeds mature in July or August and are viable in the soil for five years.
  • Spread along wildlife trails.

Roots

  • White, slender taproot, S-shaped at the top.
  • If pulling plant, need to remove the root.
garlic mustard leaves with small flower bud.
Garlic mustard
garlic mustard plant with small white flowers
Garlic mustard

 

Angela Gupta, Extension educator; Amy Rager, Extension educator; Megan M. Weber, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2019

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