Ontario Wildflowers website

Garlic Mustard
Alliaria petiolata
(formerly Alliaria officinalis)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) Other scientific names: Alliaria officinalis, Alliaria alliaria, Arabis petiolata, Sisymbrium alliaria

Family: Mustard Family (Brassicaceae)

Group: Mustards

Flowers: Spring, Summer, Autumn;  White;  4 parts (petals)

Leaves: Simple

Habitat: Forests, Fields and Open Areas

Grows in Sun/Shade: Sun, Shade

Lifespan: Annual, Biennial.  Garlic Mustard is usually a biennial species, but will occasionally grow to maturity in one year.

Edible: Garlic Mustard is edible raw or cooked like a vegetable green. A fairly decent pesto can be made from the leaves. Garlic Mustard was originally brought to North America as a food plant!

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 138   

Native/Non-native: Non-native; Garlic Mustard is an invasive plant in many areas. It has only become seriously invasive during the past 20 years or so. There is considerable debate about the best way to eradicate this species from an area.

Notes: I have included a lot of photographs of Garlic Mustard to aid in ID of this species, and also to highlight its invasiveness.
Please do not aid the spread of this species by transplanting it, even though you may think it is a good wild edible or medicinal plant!


Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: officinalis: of the shopspetiolata: stalked


See Also:
  •   Garlic Mustard: The Invader's Edge, from The Monday Garden, by Sue Sweeney
  •   Master's Thesis on the effects of Garlic Mustard - by Peter Moc


Photographs: 136 photographs available, of which 21 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

The white flowers of Garlic Mustard.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

A single open flower along with many unopened flower buds.
Garlic Mustard bolts upward and blooms very early in the spring, giving it a competitive advantage over many native species. This photo was taken in late April in Ontario.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Flowers and upper stem.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

An entire Garlic Mustard plant. Note that the leaves are more rounded near the base, and become more pointed the farther up the stem they are located.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Basal leaves of Garlic Mustard.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Leaves in the winter. Garlic Mustard has the ability to photosynthesize all winter long, which is another competitive advantage this plant has over most native species.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Empty seed husks in winter.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

A clump of the previous year's plants.
Garlic Mustard usually grows as a basal rosette for its first season, then bolts upward the following spring.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard will grow practically anywhere, such as high in this tree!

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard is a seriously invasive non-native plant. It can completely take over a wide area once it gains a foothold.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard invading a field. Note how tall it has grown, and this photo was taken at the beginning of May in Ontario!

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

A woodland trail in Pelee National Park. 100% of the ground cover in this area is Garlic Mustard.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Some vigorously healthy Garlic Mustard plants.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Spreading out from the base of a tree.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

The "nice green carpet" of small plants you see here is actually a carpet of tiny Garlic Mustard rosettes.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

There is some good news though.

Here Garlic Mustard is being smothered by either Pale Touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida) or Spotted Touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis).

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

And here Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is still able to successfully grow, even though its native habitat has been invaded by Garlic Mustard.


Range map for Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)