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  Garlic Mustard
  • What is it?  Garlic mustard is a cool-season biennial herb that ranges from 12 to 48 inches in height as an adult flowering plant. Leaves and stems emit the distinctive odor of onion or garlic when crushed (particularly in spring and early summer), and help distinguish the plant from all other woodland mustard plants.

    First year plants consist of a cluster of 3 or 4 round, scallop edged leaves rising 2 to 4 inches in a rosette. Second-year plants generally produce one or two flowering stems with numerous white flowers that have four separate petals.
  • What's the problem? Garlic Mustard is a rapidly spreading woodland weed that is displacing native woodland wildflowers in Wisconsin. It dominates the forest floor and can displace most native herbaceous species within ten years. This plant is a major threat to the survival of Wisconsin's woodland herbaceous flora and the wildlife that depend on it. There are two modes of spread: an advancing front, and satellite population expansion possibly facilitated by small animals. Unlike other plants that invade disturbed habitats, garlic mustard readily spreads into high quality forests.
  • How is it spread? The seeds are believed to be dispersed on the fur of large animals such as deer, horses, and squirrels, by flowing water and by human activities. In our areas, seeds lie dormant for 20 months prior to germination, and may remain viable for five years.
  • How do I recognize it?
    • In May it is the only plant in woods 1' - 4' tall with white flowers
    • Fruits are slender capsules 1 to 2.5 inches long that produce a single row of oblong black seeds with ridged seed coats
    • First year plants have clusters of 3 - 8 kidney-shaped leaves at ground level
    • First year leaves have a wrinkles appearance and remain green
      all winter
    • Second year plants have small (1/4 inch) white flowers with 4 petals.  Blooms April through June.
    • Second year leaves are triangular, 1 - 3 inches wide, coarsely toothed on edges.
    • Leaves give off a garlic odor when crushed.

  • Look alike plants.  Violet leaves resemble first year plants.  However,
    the violet flowers are low and have 5 petals.  The leaves are less crinkly.

    Ground Ivy (Creeping Charlie) spreads along the ground as a vine and has purple flowers.

    For more information visit dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/milfoil.htm