The Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority

Garlic Mustard

What is Garlic Mustard?

Garlic mustard is an edible herb that releases a smell similar to garlic. This plant was first introduced to North America from Europe in the early 1800s as a garden herb that is high in vitamins A and C.

  • Garlic mustard has a single stem and can grow between 3 to 4 feet tall. 
  • First-year plants form a basal rosette of kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. Second-year plants grow taller with triangular, toothed leaves arranged alternately on the stem.
  • One or more delicate white flower clusters are produced between May and early June.
  • Fruiting seed pods start to form in June, producing black seeds in late July.
  • Found commonly along roadsides and trails.
Garlic mustard 2-2

Where is Garlic Mustard found in our watershed?

Garlic Mustard continues to invade our watershed. It often spreads along trail systems and has infested parts of the Bruce Trail. Annual efforts continue at the Tiffin Centre Conservation Area and in partnership with the Nature League along the Bruce Trail at the Petun Conservation Area.

Why is it of concern?

Clusters of garlic mustard have the ability to double in size every four years. This plant has “displacement capacity,” where the roots produce toxic chemicals that interfere with the fungi found in the soil. This interference has the ability to wipe out native ground covers such as the trilliums while promoting continued garlic mustard growth.

What you can do?

  • Report sightings and submit a digital photo to EddMapS.
  • Volunteer with garlic mustard pulling events in your local area.
  • Remember to clean your shoes after hiking and keep pets on a leash to avoid further spread.

How to control the spread

  • Removal of garlic mustard is relatively simple but needs to be performed correctly in order to be effective. Ideally, garlic mustard should be pulled out of the ground in May/June before seeds develop.
  • By pulling slowly from the bottommost part of the stem, the roots usually stay attached.
  • It is important not to burn or compost the pulled plants. Rather, place them carefully in a black garbage bag and seal tightly. Leave the black bag in direct sunlight for a week and dispose with garbage.

More information

Invasive species on private property

NVCA does not offer a service to remove invasive species on private property.  If you are looking for tips on dealing with invasive species on your property, see the links above, or visit  Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program.

Image courtesy of the Ontario Invasive Species Council

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