Learn more about Garlic Mustard
Garlic mustard is an invasive, nonnative plant that can take over a forest floor, crowding out native plants, including wildflowers. In the late 1800s, garlic mustard was brought to the United States from Europe for use as a culinary herb. Since then, it has spread across most states, including Missouri.
Garlic mustard occurs most frequently in upland and floodplain forests, savannas and along roadsides. It invades shaded areas, especially disturbed sites, and open woodlands. It is capable of growing in dense shade and occasionally in full sun. Garlic mustard seeds seem to be spread by animals, by flowing water and by human activities.
Garlic mustard is easily distinguished from all other woodland mustard plants by its characteristic odor of garlic from all parts of the plant and by the 2- to 4-foot-tall flower stalks covered with numerous small, four-petalled, white flowers in May. The flowers are 1/4 inch across and are situated at the top of the stem and also at some of the leaf axils. Garlic mustard has black seeds in 1- to 4.7-inch, narrow, linear capsules called siliques. The seeds are mature in the spring, but are dispersed when the siliques burst at maturity in August. The plant has alternate, coarsely toothed, broadly triangular leaves along the stem and distinct petioles (stems of each leaf). While garlic mustard can be mistaken for other plants at certain times of the year, it can be distinguished by its white, slender taproot with a characteristic crook or "s" shape at the top of the root, just below the base of the stem. The plants generally can be pulled up very easily. Garlic mustard should be accurately identified before attempting any control measures. If identification of the species is in doubt, the plant's identity should be confirmed by a knowledgeable individual and/or by consulting other appropriate resources.