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Garlic mustard

Botanical Name:

Alliaria petiolata

Common Name:

Garlic mustard,Garlicwort,Hedge Garlic,Jack-in-the-Bush,Mustard Root,Poor Man's Mustard,Sauce-Alone


It is an herbaceous biennial plant growing from a deeply growing, thin, whitish taproot scented like horseradish. In their first years, plants are rosettes of green leaves close to the ground; these rosettes remain green through the winter and develop into mature flowering plants the following spring. Second-year plants often grow from 30–100 cm (12–39 in) tall, rarely to 130 cm (51 in) tall. The leaves are stalked, triangular through heart shaped, 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) long (of which about half being the petiole) and 5–9 cm (2.0–3.5 in) broad, with coarsely toothed margins. The flowers are produced in spring and summer in small clusters. Each small flower has four white petals 4–8 mm (0.2–0.3 in) long and 2–3 mm (0.08–0.12 in) broad, arranged in a cross shape. The fruit is an erect, slender, four-sided capsule 4–5.5 cm (1.6–2.2 in) long, called a silique, green maturing to pale grey brown, containing two rows of small shiny black seeds which are released when a silique splits open. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which often scatter several meters from the parent plant. Depending upon conditions, garlic mustard flowers either self-fertilize or are cross-pollinated by a variety of insects. Plants from self-fertilized seeds can be genetically identical to their parent plant, enhancing their abilities to thrive in places where their parental genotype can thrive.   Close-up of garlic mustard flowers   Fruits and seeds Sixty-nine insect herbivores and seven fungi are associated with garlic mustard in Europe. The most important groups of natural enemies associated with garlic mustard were weevils (particularly the genus Ceutorhynchus), leaf beetles, butterflies, and moths, including the larvae of some moth species such as the garden carpet moth. The small white flowers have a rather unpleasant aroma which attracts midges and hoverflies, although the flowers usually pollinate themselves. In June the pale green caterpillar of the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines) can be found feeding on the long green seed-pods from which it can hardly be distinguished.

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Bloom Time


Plant Type





In the second year of growth, plants flower in spring, producing button-like clusters of cross shaped white flowers with four petals.


The fruit is a four-sided elongated pod (4-5.5 cm long). It starts out green and matures to gray-brown. Inside are two rows of shiny black seeds which are released when the pod splits open mid-summer. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which scatter as much as several meters from the parent plant.

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