Garlic Mustard

(Alliaria petiolata)

Other Names:
Garlic root, Hedge garlic, Jack-in-the-bush, Penny hedge, Poor man's mustard


Brassicaceae – Mustard family

Growth Type:
A biennial flowering plant

The second year plant can grow to 40 in tall. Specimens ranging up to 50 in have been reported.

The first year plants form rosettes of triangular to heart shaped leaves with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves are stalked, triangular to heart-shaped and slightly wrinkled in appearance. They are 2-4 in long, and almost as broad. When crushed the leaves smell like a cross between garlic, onion, mustard. The leaves will remain green under the winter snow.

Single erect stem

Deeply growing, thin, white, taproot. The root smells similar to horseradish

Flower Season:
The plant flowers in spring and summer

Flower Appearance:
The small white flowers are borne in button-like clusters. Each small cross shaped flower has four white petals 4–8 mm long and 2–3 mm wide.

The fruit, or silique, is an erect, slender, four-sided pod 4 to 5.5 cm long. As it matures, it turns from green to pale grey-brown. each silique produces hundreds of small shiny black seeds.

Miscellaneous characteristics:
While a useful culinary and medicinal plant, garlic mustard is an invasive species. Because of lack of predation, this plant has taken over much of its range.

Waste areas, wooded areas, along hedge rows

Parts Used:

Wild Food Uses:
In its native Europe, garlic mustard has been used as a culinary herb for centuries. As a matter of fact, it was brought to North America by early settlers as a garlic flavored herb that was delicious, and high in vitamins & minerals.

The chopped leaves are used for flavoring in salads and sauces such as pesto, and sometimes the flowers and fruit are included as well. These are best when young, and provide a mild flavor of both garlic and mustard. In French cooking the seeds are used to season food.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:
Garlic mustard was used historically as a disinfectant and diuretic. It was also said to be used to heal ulcerative wounds.

Medicinal Actions:
Antiseptic, Diuretic, Vulnerary

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