garlic mustard

(Alliaria petiolata)

Conservation Status
garlic mustard
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Weed Status

Restricted Noxious Weed

Garlic mustard is listed as an invasive terrestrial plant by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Garlic mustard is an erect, 12 to 40 tall, biennial, herbaceous plant rising from a slender, white taproot that forms a shallow “S” just below the base of the stem. In the first year it produces a rosette of 3 or 4 leaves. The plants stay green over the first winter. In the second year it also produces one or two tall flowering stems. It forms dense stands that block virtually all sunlight from reaching the ground. Second-year plants die by late June, leaving only the erect stalks with dry, pale brown seedpods. All parts of the plant smell like garlic.

The stems are usually unbranched, sometimes slightly branched. They are hairless of have a few simple hairs.

The first year leaves are kidney-shaped, about 2 wide and 2 long. They are green, hairless, coarsely toothed, and deeply veined. They are on leaf stalks that are about as long as the leaf.

The second year leaves are similar to those of the first year. The basal leaves are kidney-shaped. The stem leaves are alternate, light green or yellowish green, with pointed tips, heart-shaped near the bottom of the stem, becoming smaller, more triangular, and nearly stemless as they ascend the stem.

The inflorescence is a short, button-like cluster at the end of each stem.

The flowers are small, wide, with 4 white petals The petals have rounded tips and narrow to the base.

The fruits are slender, 4-angled, 1 to 2½ long pods containing single rows of seeds. The pods spread widely, from horizontal to erect. they becomes shiny black when mature.




12 to 40


Flower Color




Similar Species


The coarsely toothed triangular stem leaves and kidney-shaped basal leaves that smell of garlic when crushed make this plant easy to identify.

Mints have similar leaves but their leaves are always opposite and their stems are conspicuously 4-angled.

Bitter cresses (Cardamine spp.) are similar but their leaves are never coarsely toothed, and the flowers are on longer flower stalks.


Moist to moderate moisture. Woodlands, wood edges, trail edges, roadsides. Partial or full shade.




April to June


Pests and Diseases




Defense Mechanisms


Garlic mustard produces chemicals that help it compete against nearby plants (allelopathy). The roots and leaves exude toxic chemicals that suppress mycorrhizal fungi that other plants need to absorb nutrients from the soil. The mycorrhizal fungi that garlic mustard needs is not suppressed. The chemicals also inhibit the growth and germination of competing plants.

Garlic mustard also produces chemicals to defend against herbivores. All parts of the plant exude a strong garlic odor. Deer avoid garlic mustard and eat neighboring plants, helping garlic mustard increase its population. It is also toxic to some insects, including the mustard white butterfly.

Garlic mustard seeds remain viable in the soil for up to five years.




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to southern and eastern Europe, Northern Africa, Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. Introduced into the North America as a potherb. Escaped cultivation and naturalized.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Brassicales (mustards, capers, and allies)  


Brassicaceae (mustard)  
  Tribe Thlaspideae  



Subordinate Taxa






Alliaria alliacea

Alliaria alliaria

Alliaria officinalis

Arabis petiolata

Crucifera alliaria

Erysimum alliaria

Hesperis alliaria

Sisymbrium alliaceum

Sisymbrium alliaria


Common Names


garlic mustard

















The release of a chemical toxin by one plant to inhibit the growth or germination of nearby competing plants.

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    garlic mustard      


    garlic mustard   garlic mustard  
    garlic mustard      


    garlic mustard   garlic mustard  


    garlic mustard   garlic mustard  


    garlic mustard      


    garlic mustard      


    garlic mustard   garlic mustard  



  Garlic Mustard
Wez Smith
  Garlic Mustard  

Garlic Mustard (Alliara petiolata).

  Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata
Virens (Latin for greening)
  Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata  

An invasive species which which poses an ecological threat to natural areas of New York State. A single plant can produce thousands of seeds, which scatter as much as several meters from the parent plant.

Plant Conservation Alliance's Alien Plant Working Group

  Alliaria petiolata
Susanne Wiik
  Alliaria petiolata  

Løkurt, Garlic mustard, Jack-by-the-hedge

  Alliaria petiolata GARLIC MUSTARD
Frank Mayfield
  Alliaria petiolata GARLIC MUSTARD  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Garlic Mustard, identification of the Wisconsin Invasive Species Alliaria petiolata

Uploaded on Jan 31, 2011

This is part of a series of videos providing key characteristics for the identification of invasive plants listed in Wisconsin's invasive species administrative rule NR 40. These videos are produced by Dr. Mark Renz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For more information on invasive plants and invasive plant management in Wisconsin visit

  Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) - 2012-04-29

Published on May 2, 2012

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family, Brassicaceae.

Look-zonder-look (Alliaria petiolata, synoniem: Alliaria officinalis) is een algemeen voorkomende plant die behoort tot de kruisbloemenfamilie (Brassicaceae).

  The Invaders: Garlic Mustard

Uploaded on Oct 24, 2009

Professional Horticulturist and Master Gardener Ellen Nibali identifies Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and explains how to remove this invasive plant from your garden.

Click here to read our publication on invasive species for even more information:

This video is brought to you by the Home and Garden Information Center, part of University of Maryland Extension. Learn about our Grow It Eat It campaign, which provides resources and encourages people to start their own food gardens.

Check out our facebook page for more gardening advice:!/GIEIMaryland

Intro Credit: "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956); Allied Artists. Music and shot of woman screaming used here in accordance with Fair Use.

Shot and Edited by: Alix Watson and Emily Heimsoth

  Garlic mustard: A Minnesota woodland owner's story

Uploaded on Jun 25, 2010

John Peterson shares his story of identifying, monitoring, and controlling invasive garlic mustard on his Minnesota woodland property.

  Your DNREC - Invasion of the Garlic Mustard
Delaware DNREC

Published on May 11, 2012

Delaware's being invaded... you can help!




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Afton State Park

Baker Park Reserve

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Camden State Park

Carley State Park

Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

Carver Park Reserve

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Crosby Farm Regional Park

Dodge Nature Center

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Snelling State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Kasota Prairie

Keller Regional Park

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

Laible Woods

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Creek Woods SNA

Ritter Farm Park

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Springs WMA

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Thompson County Park

Uncas Dunes SNA

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Westwood Hills Nature Center

Whitewater State Park

Whitney Island SNA

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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