An herb originating in Europe, garlic mustard found its way to the United States in the late 1860’s, likely for food and medicinal uses. It is now seen sporadically across the United States. The plants do not flower until the second year they have been established, at which point they may have multiple flowering stalks up to 4 feet high. Their leaves are kidney-shaped in the first year, but are more heart-shaped in later years. When crushed the leaves smell like garlic. Flowers are small and white, growing at the end of stalks in small clusters. The fruits are slender capsules that grow off the stalks. A single plant is able to produce hundreds of seeds, which are viable for 2-5 years, making treatment difficult. Garlic mustard poses the greatest threat to local wildflowers, quickly outcompeting them while releasing toxins that can harm native butterfly species and hinder sapling growth in the area.
Small plants can be uprooted, but this may need to continue for a few years to be effective. Larger plants however can be cut and herbicides applied during the winter. This will only be effective if repeated for a few years because of the long life of the seeds.