I’ve been “managing” garlic mustard since April and I am amazed at where I am finding it. It’s showing up in places I’ve never seen it before and I am getting just a little discouraged. Now that the ground is getting dried out, it is more difficult to get past the s-shape of the root to dig them out. And the foliage of the other plants is getting high enough that I can’t see all the seedlings still popping up everywhere! I have a feeling the mild 2015-16 winter had something to do with its extraordinary propagation this year.
Last year Martine and Hale of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania published a paper introducing evidence toward the negative effects of the invasive plant garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) on native mycorrhizal associations. The disruption occurs because garlic mustard produces anti-fungal compounds which not only hamper formation of new associations between native plants and mycorrhizae, but also diminishes the effectiveness of existing connections. Testing shows that native plant species produce less biomass as a result of this loss in the fungi network which means there is diminished carbon storage and indirectly effects things like seedling growth and flowering frequency. This parasitism disruption has the potential to impact biodiversity in far reaching ways. So manage that garlic mustard with a vengeance!
More information about garlic mustard. To wear your very own message about the horrors of garlic mustard, buy the “garlic mustard spreads” t-shirt at the Wild Store.
Note: don’t forget to click on the photos to see a larger version with better contrast.
Ken Sikora says
I have a couple of areas where garlic mustard keeps popping up. If I lose control, I carpet the areas, which aren’t very big. After a year, normally everything is dead and the soil is bare. Not sure if like you say the seeds are viable for 5-6 years. Will they come back once the carpet is removed?
Donna VanBuecken says
Hi! Ken — the idea behind smothering unwanted vegetation is to not only kill the plants, but also the seed lying dormant in the soil. Covering the area with a layer of mulch might help to make certain. As long as you do not disturb the area, for sure the “cooked” seed should not germinate. Are you planning to plant something else in that location? If so, I’d keep an eye on it to make sure all the garlic seed got “cooked” and does not resprout.