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Garlic Mustard

Photo by Paul Rischmiller

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Common Name: Garlic mustard
Scientific Name: Alliaria petiolata
Origin: Europe


Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that grows as a rosette of kidney-shaped leaves in the first year. The second-year plant can grow multiple stems up to 4 ft. with triangular, sharply-toothed leaves. In May, four-petaled, white flowers grow in clusters at the top of the stem. Garlic mustard produces a multitude of seeds, which can remain viable for seven years or more.


Garlic mustard thrives in deciduous forests and partially shaded, moist habitats.


This invader is an early riser in spring, dominating forest under-stories and out-competing native plants. It releases chemicals that are harmful to soil fungus, which native trees depend on.


Recent research suggests that for large and/or well established infestations with substantial seed banks, it’s best to leave the plant alone as they will fade out on their own. However, in high quality natural areas where the invasion is recent, removal may make sense. Plants can be pulled or cut in late spring when flowers are in bloom. Monitor the site in the fall and pull any emerging first-year plants. Repeat every year until the seedbank has been depleted. Herbicides can also be used effectively.

Regional Distribution


WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 4 – Local Control

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart

Garlic mustard is a prohibited species in New York State – for more information on Prohibited and Regulated Species, visit