Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is an herbaceous weed-like plant that primarily inhabits forested areas. New sprouts have heart shaped basal leaves the first year. As they mature, the leaves become triangular and toothed. The plants have small four-petaled flowers in spring. Plants can grow upwards and outwards up to four feet. When the plant is crushed or picked, you can smell a garlic-like odor.
Garlic mustard spreads quickly, out-competing understory plants, including tree seedlings. These plants produce many small seeds which can be spread by wind or be transported by human activities. It can also produce compounds that limit the germination of other neighboring species.
The best way to control garlic mustard is through repeated hand pulling. Pull the second year plants after they flower but before they go to seed (May). Dispose of plants in the trash or dry and burn.
Check out our rack card about garlic mustard and dames rocket for instructions on how to remove it!