Alliaria petiolata Barker Woods Preserve

photo by Nathanael Pilla

Species Present and Exotic


Stem: multiple flower heads (10 to 40) with the central flower head having an average of 106 little flowers on it.  

Flowers: are 60 cm in diameter (.25 in) with 4 white petals, 4 green sepals, a short style, and numerous stamen. 

Leaves: in the first year are kidney-shaped and arranged in a circular manner around the base of the plant. The mature, second year leaves are toothed, triangular-shaped and alternate along the stem.

Fruits: turn tan in the summer and persist through the winter. The elongated, narrow seed pods (siliques) can be up to 6.4 cm long (2.5 in). One plant can produce from 4 to 16 erect seed pods with 10 to 20 black seeds in each.  

Ideal conditions: Rich, moist, shaded areas.

Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata  (M. Bieb.) Cav. & Grande

Family:     Brassicaceae (Mustard family)

Duration:  Biennial

Height:     120 cm (up to 4 ft)

Blooming: May-June (sometimes in fall)

Alliaria petiolata_Scott Namestnik

photo by Scott Namestnik

Comments: Garlic mustard has a strong garlic odor and a distinct peppery taste. This flavor comes from an alkaloid called allicin which is also found in garlic. The odor and taste lessens as the year moves on. Native to Europe where it is not aggressive, it has become highly invasive in North America. The edibility of this plant has sparked "picking parties" whereupon groups pull the weed then create dishes to share with it (Eastman 2003).    


Eastman, J.A. 2003. The Book of Field and Roadside: Open-Country Weeds, Trees, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America. Stackpole Bookes, Mechanicsburg, PA. pp. 198-203.