Mariton: Garlic Mustard

April 27, 2012

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis) is blooming.  This is one flower that I hate to see.  It is an invasive plant that not only squeezes out other plants, but kills mycorrhizal fungi.  Soil mycorrhizae increases access to water and nutrients for many plants.  Some plants won’t grow or germinate without soil mycorrhizae.  So, not only can Garlic Mustard take over a forest floor by its prodigious seed dispersal, but it works underground to weaken and eliminate plants that depend on mycorrhizal fungi to survive.

At Mariton, we have been working for more than five years to control Garlic Mustard simply by pulling it out before it goes to seed.  This is one of the success stories.  It takes a lot of time, but we have greatly reduced the amount of Garlic Mustard growing at Mariton.  It has paid dividends.  I think the removal is one of the reasons that we are seeing wildflowers like the Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis) expanding into new areas in the forest.

(Showy Orchis)

Saturday, April 28, you can help us pull Garlic Mustard between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.  Bring gloves.  Can’t make it then, but would like to help?  No problem.  This is a great project for someone wanting to spend some time on the trails.  Just let me know, and I will point you in the right direction.  Oh, and this is the one plant that you can collect at Mariton and take home.  Some people eat the flowers like broccoli and there are other recipes for Garlic Mustard.