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Poor Man's Mustard Alliaria petiolata

Phonetic Spelling
al-ee-AR-ee-uh pet-ee-oh-LAH-tuh
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Alliaria petiolata, or Garlic Mustard, is an herbaceous, biennial, flowering plant in the mustard (Brassicaceae) family.  It is native to Europe, western and central Asia, and Africa and was introduced to North America as a culinary herb in 1860. It has become invasive in many states in the USA as the rhizomatous roots and underground stems send roots and shoots along their length. In the wild, it is often found in damp hedgerows, edges of woods and other shady places. In the landscape, Garlic Mustard tends to crowd out the native wildflowers that bloom during the spring. Controls include pulling the plants by their roots and spraying the foliage with herbicides. Cutting the flowering stalks from their stems is not adequate because Garlic Mustard regenerates new stalks and mature seeds can develop from any cut stalks left on the ground.

Garlic Mustard prefers partial sun to medium shade, moist to mesic conditions, and a loamy fertile soil. In the first year of growth, plants form clumps of round to heart-shaped (4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) long and 2 to 4 1/2 inches (5-9 cm) wide), coarsely toothed leaves.  The next year plants flower in the spring, producing button-like clusters of cross-shaped white flowers with four petals. The fruit is a four-sided elongated pod (4 inches (4-5.5 cm) long).  It starts out green and matures to gray-brown.  Inside are two rows of shiny black seeds which are released when the pod splits open mid-summer.   A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which scatter as much as several meters from the parent plant. Crushed leaves smell like garlic.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known disease or pest issues.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#showy flowers#biennial#white flowers#weed#edible weed#culinary#weedy#spring flowers#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#culinary herb#spring interest#edible garden#unpleasant fragrance
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#showy flowers#biennial#white flowers#weed#edible weed#culinary#weedy#spring flowers#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#culinary herb#spring interest#edible garden#unpleasant fragrance
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Alliaria
    Species:
    petiolata
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, western and central Asia, and Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts wildlife
    Edibility:
    All parts of the plant, are edible. The roots smell like horse-radish and can be cut up and used in soups and stews. The leaves can be chopped and used in salads, sauces or pesto. The seeds can also be saved and used to season food.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Siliqua
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a four-sided elongated pod (1 1/2 to 2 inches long). It starts out green and matures to gray-brown. Inside are two rows of shiny black seeds which are released when the pod splits open mid-summer. A single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, which scatter as much as several feet from the parent plant. This plant often forms colonies by reseeding itself.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Cross
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    In the second year of growth, the upper stems terminate in narrow racemes of button-like clusters of cross shaped white flowers with four petals. While in bloom, these flowers are bunched together toward the top of the raceme. However, as the flowers mature and develop seedpods, the raceme becomes more elongated and they become more separated.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Orbicular
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    In the first year of growth, plants form clumps of round to heart-shaped (2 inches long and wide), coarsely toothed leaves. The alternate leaves of 2nd year plants have a similar appearance, except that they are usually longer than wide, spanning up to 3" long and 2" across. When the leaves are crushed, they smell like garlic.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    The stems of 2nd year plants are occasionally hairy, otherwise they are glabrous like the blades of the leaves.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy