Mariton: Garlic Mustard Time

May 3, 2022

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.

Three volunteers standing behind a pile of garlic mustard.

Photo by Tim Burris.

It is Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis) season again.  Volunteers are removing it at Mariton.  We will meet as a group on May 7 in the morning, and every other Thursday through May.

Garlic Mustard has decreased at Mariton.  The volunteers who have helped over the years are the ones that really notice the difference.  It is great to hear veteran GM pullers tell me “I checked ‘such and such’ Trail and there isn’t anything to pull there.”  Wildflower admirers who visit Mariton also comment the lack of Garlic Mustard compared to other natural areas that they visit.

Three teenagers in a pickup truck that is full of garlic mustard they pulled.

Photo by Tim Burris. These three young women really got things started when it comes to garlic mustard at Mariton.

In 2006, I started pulling Garlic Mustard along the trails.  Every Preserve Manager will tell you that April, May and June are whirlwind months, and it is tough to keep up with all the work that needs to be done.  So, though I removed a lot, I needed to do more.  That happened in 2007, when three high school seniors approached me about a senior project.  They literally jumped into pulling Garlic Mustard, and filled several pickup truck loads.

A volunteer bending over to pull garlic mustard.

Photo by Tim Burris. Notice all the Mayapples in this area.

People could see the difference in 2008, but there was still lots of work to do.  So, volunteers, Stewardship Assistants and I have pulled tons of Garlic Mustard every year since (less each year).  It seems daunting at first, but we have really made a difference.  Not only do we see less Garlic Mustard at Mariton, but we see a lot more wildflowers.  Garlic Mustard produces a chemical that kills soil mycorrhiza, and soil mycorrhiza promotes the health of many native plants, including trees.  There are still problem areas where it is difficult to work, but we make progress every year.  A big “tip of the hat” to the many volunteers who’ve helped Mariton’s forest by pulling Garlic Mustard.