Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic, Jack by the Hedge
Alliaria petiolata

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Alliaria (al-ee-AR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: petiolata (pet-ee-oh-LAH-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Alliaria officinalis

15 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
Unknown - Tell us

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #1 of Alliaria petiolata by kennedyh

By henryr10
Thumbnail #2 of Alliaria petiolata by henryr10

By KCnoxiousweeds
Thumbnail #3 of Alliaria petiolata by KCnoxiousweeds

By KCnoxiousweeds
Thumbnail #4 of Alliaria petiolata by KCnoxiousweeds

By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #5 of Alliaria petiolata by Equilibrium

By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #6 of Alliaria petiolata by Equilibrium

By Equilibrium
Thumbnail #7 of Alliaria petiolata by Equilibrium

There are a total of 22 photos.
Click here to view them all!


2 positives
5 neutrals
25 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative wonderlandrelic On Apr 7, 2014, wonderlandrelic from Shorewood, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

This was showing in February with snow still on the ground and glad I took the time to identify it. I saw a couple of these late last year when we moved in so I am going to get rid of them now before they get any worse. I am giving this a negative as all the stories I have heard from the new neighbors and reading online!

Negative coriaceous On Feb 6, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I've had this come in by seed from a neighbor, and have also had to deal with it as a professional gardener. It's an aggressive weed. It also look ugly in summer after it goes to seed, when the whole plant dies.

This plant spreads like wildfire by seed. Seeds can spread by sticking to your boots. Once a stem starts to go to seed, it has enough stored food and water to produce viable seed even if cut down and left on a compost heap. That's why it's important to bag flowering plants and dispose of them in landfill.

Garlic mustard is a biennial, and cannot flower without first going through a cold period. In its second year it will flower and go to seed no matter how small it is, even if only 1" tall.

This plant prefers shade, and will tolerate very deep shade. It isn't very drought-tolerant, and plants in full sun may die of drought.

In weeding, it's helpful to know that there's a weak point near the base of the stem where it tends to break off. Where the soil is hard or stony, it's easy to leave a lot of root behind. New plants can regenerate from pieces of root, and a root dug out and left on the surface will re-root and go to seed. A trowel is essential if you want to get all the root out consistently.

This plant is allelopathic---it puts out chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants. It also inhibits the growth of symbiotic fungi (mycorhizae) that many plants native to eastern North America depend on for normal growth.

Garlic mustard invades and damages natural woodland habitat in eastern and northwestern North America. It's more or less evergreen, and wakes up early enough in the spring to outcompete our woodland spring wildflowers. I've often seen native woodlands carpeted by solid stands of garlic mustard.

This plant is easy to kill with glyphosate herbicide.

Seeds remain viable in the soil for at least five years.

Those who try to restore native woodland by removing a stand of garlic mustard often find that another invasive plant fills the vacuum left when the garlic mustard is gone. It's important to plan for this and replace the garlic mustard with appropriate woodland plants or their seeds. The garlic mustard itself is often filling the vacuum left after the destruction of our native wildflowers by deer. Deer generally leave garlic mustard alone.

This plant is often said to have been brought to North America by European immigrants who used it as a medicinal and culinary herb. But before you try to eat it, you should know that it contains enough cyanide (up to 100 ppm) to make you sick if you eat a big serving.

Eight states have designated this species a noxious weed or prohibited plant.

Neutral RiverNymph On Jan 15, 2013, RiverNymph from the Mountains, CO (Zone 4a) wrote:

Uhm, WOW. Well, I am reading it's actually a really wonderful plant to eat and is absolutely delicious. Any one want to comment on the flavor?

Negative StellaElla On Aug 24, 2011, StellaElla from Graham, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

IF your garden is in Eastern North America, don't even think about it. I have spent literally hundreds of hours eliminating this plant from my 100'x150' suburban lot. The previous owner allowed this to grow because he thought it was 'pretty'. Note home buyers: if you see this growing on a potential property for you, make sure subtract at least a couple thousand dollars from the price to account for the eons of time you'll spend pulling this from your gardens.

Negative plant_it On May 26, 2011, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

If I lived in an area where this plant was native, I would love it. Unfortunately, here in the U.S. it is non-native, invasive and destroying our forests. I've been battling this like crazy in my woods. It's a biennial plant -rosette first year, flowers & sets seed in second year.

Here is info from Minnesota DNR website:

"Ecological Threat:
- Garlic mustard spreads into high quality woodlands upland and floodplain forests, not just into disturbed areas.
- Invaded sites undergo a decline on native herbaceous cover within 10 years.
- Garlic mustard alters habitat suitability for native insects and thereby birds and mammals.
- This European exotic occurs now in 27 midwestern and northeastern states and in Canada. "

U.S. National Park Service calls garlic mustard a severe threat to native plants and animals in forest communities in much of the Eastern and Midwestern United States.

In a nutshell, it chokes out the native plants. Trouble with that is your wildlife, birds, insects have evolved since beginning of time to live on the native plants, not garlic mustard. When you wipe out the native plants, you do a good job of wiping out the native wildlife. They say garlic mustard is creating "starvation forests" for wildlife in the U.S.

Here's an article that addresses the issue with some humor:

Negative ebfarm On May 14, 2011, ebfarm from Mazon, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

WE have renamed these plants to Mustard Mutants. I found one in my yard when I moved in 5 years ago and the battle began. I spend at least an hour or so of my day walking around and pulling these out. I am a green person by nature and do not use any chemicals here. I embrace most wildflowers/weeds like violets and dandelions and just let them do their thing. But THESE plants have torn a black hole in my heart and I feel the urge to buy every chemical known in the garden world, but I doubt it would do any good. I have read that the seeds can sit for 8 years and just chill waiting to pop their ugly heads out of the ground. I really wish that there was a better way to rid them, but for know I am going to roll up my sleeves and keep pulling. If you wait until after a rain they do pull easier because you have to get the whole root. That is the only advise I can give for these hateful monsters.

Negative laura10801 On May 1, 2011, laura10801 from Fairfield County, CT (Zone 6b) wrote:

This is one of the worst thugs I know. I didn't know it was edible, but you know what, that does not redeem it in the slightest. It does not matter how much I yank these stinky weeds out, they always return because my neighbors let their take over. If you see this plant growing anywhere at all I urge you to destroy it.

Neutral nilly On Apr 22, 2011, nilly from Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I heard on NPR recently that this is the MOST nutritious green ever tested. It is terribly INVASIVE here. I have hated it for years. Yet since I have learned how nutritious it is, I plan to grow it in containers where it can't escape, keep it deadheaded, and chow down! I've been needing to find a food crop that would be prolific and strong here in zone 5.....
Beans and greens, baby. Beans and greens. FREE FOOD!

Neutral PlantsAreNo1 On Apr 21, 2011, PlantsAreNo1 from Aurora, CO wrote:

So... I see that many people regard this plant as a nuisance. I think it interesting that the same plant will behave differently, even in nearby locations.

I used to live in Laramie, WY at 7200 feet elevation. There, dandelions grew 2 feet tall overnight and looked like something from another planet. I also struggled with bellflower, a pretty blue flowered plant I thought at first, that reproduces from millions of hair thin roots that I could not get it out of my lawn after years of trying. The Ag Extension recommended a very powerful herbicide not normally available to home gardeners since bellflower regards any herbicide available at the hardware store as fertilizer.

Here in Denver, a few hours drive away, I have never seen bellflower except in nurseries, and dandelions grow only a few inches tall. We have bindweed everywhere, although I never saw it in Laramie. Also, the spearmint I bought 10 years ago at a local nursery has required massive amounts of labor to keep under control. That is an AWFUL plant in my garden.

I have read that garlic mustard is the most nutritious greens every tested. So --- why not harvest and eat it? I am looking for some seeds to try in my garden. And - I don't believe that it or anything else can crowd out the spearmint.

BTW, another flower I loved in Laramie is the Star Lilly, which is apparently native to that area. I haven't been able to find seeds for it or any way to start it here.

If anyone wants some bindweed or spearmint, just ask!


Neutral DMersh On Apr 17, 2011, DMersh from Perth
United Kingdom (Zone 7b) wrote:

This seems to be a problem plant outside its native area (Europe), in Europe it grows in balance with other plants and is not a dominant species anywhere, things like stinging nettle (Urtica), hogweed and other parsley plants and various thistles are far more prolific. In England stinging nettle is about as dominant and widespread a plant as you'll find anywhere.

Negative theNobody14161 On Jan 10, 2010, theNobody14161 from Kalamazoo, MI wrote:

It took this plant 5 years to go from three plants to absolute domination over poison ivy, virginia creeper, myrtle, wild raspberry, herb robert and all the other plants in a 3 acre section of forest. in a shaded, non-waterlogged forest, it will conquer ANYTHING.

Negative magicfrizbees On May 24, 2009, magicfrizbees from Lewis Center, OH wrote:

You've got to be kidding - this stuff spreads like mad. Google "garlic mustard pulls" and help out at a park or preserve near you. You can't have any of mine! I'm still working on eradicating it from the edge of the woods behind me - pulling the tall second-year plants when they begin to bloom. Within a limited area, it is possible. Some native woodland plants are returning as a result, like the mayapples.

Negative RosemaryA On May 2, 2009, RosemaryA from Toronto, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

Here in Toronto garlic mustard is extremely invasive. Canadian wildlife will not eat it, it seeds prolifically, and it even damages the mycorrhizal fungi that Canadian native plants need to grow properly. The result is that it takes over Canadian woodlands, devastating populations of Canadian native plants and the wild animals who depend on them. If you live in North America, please please please remove this weed if you find it on your property, lest it escape and destroy more wilderness.

Positive bonitin On Apr 22, 2009, bonitin from Gent
Belgium (Zone 8a) wrote:

I love this plant too! It's sooo beautiful in spring with its lovely white flowers and beautiful heart-shaped light green foliage!

Positive Invasive On Mar 23, 2009, Invasive from Jamestown, KY wrote:

I don't know why so many negatives, I can't say ENOUGH GREAT things about this plant!!!! Its flowers are very aroma and the leaves can be put In other foods and adds a taste of spice to any dish you care to cook up. It Is such a beautiful plant when In bloom and the bright green foliage Is breath taking to say the least, This plant should be encouraged to grow in EVERY yard. If you have this plant be sure to give friends and family some seeds so they can have It a growing on there property to love and admirer. This Is among some of the nicest plants that you can grow. A+ plant with nothing but GREAT qualities to have!! And once you have It before long you have MORE great plants to love and enjoy. It believes In giving more of its self with greater numbers every year so that the love and beauty of It can be spread. And like I said, do give some seeds to family and friends they will love It as well. A++++ plant all the way!!!!!!!

Negative daylilyfanatic On Jul 16, 2008, daylilyfanatic wrote:

I can't understand why anyone would want to grow this plant. first of all I find it ugly, but that might just be because it's the number one weed in my garden! I'ts on New York state's invasive list and crews of voulnteers gather each year to help destroy it. although edible (i think it tastes horrible) it causes irritations on your skin and the pollen gives lots of people alergies. If anyone is even considering leting this palnt grow in the back area of there lot I would STRONGLY advise them to destroy the plant asap, not to mention planting it in there garden.

Negative Jsorens On May 17, 2008, Jsorens from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

I'm sure garlic mustard is a nice enough plant in its native range, which is Eurasia and North Africa, but for some reason it simply takes over the forest in North America. There are "nature preserves" in my area of New York that are completely infested with garlic mustard. Needless to say, native spring forbs like trillium are nowhere to be found.

On the plus side, the flowers are aromatic, and the leaves are edible. But no responsible North American gardener should be growing it, and state officials need to start doing a better job of controlling it on public lands.

Negative oscarkat01 On Mar 21, 2008, oscarkat01 from Rochester, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

In upstate NY this plant is invading everywhere rapidly. I pull huge amounts every spring and it is beginning to make some impact. Christmas and other ferns are coming back strongly where I have greatly reduced the garlic mustard but it is very tough to get rid of on 4 acres. Hand pulling seems to cause less seed dispersal then tools or machinery but it is harder work. Cornell is researching bio control methods of this unrelenting invasive ( invasive ) is their page for Cornell cooperative extension invasive sight.

Negative Fledgeling On Jan 12, 2008, Fledgeling from Huron, SD wrote:

This plant crowds out wildflowers, there is no good aspect to this plant whatsoever. It is a weed by every definition.

Negative Malus2006 On Jan 9, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

Have appear in small numbers in my yard even thought there were no plants for thousands of feet. Very ugly with dried seedheads through late summer to fall, making woodland area look more weedy than it used to be.

Negative distantkin On Nov 3, 2007, distantkin from Saint Cloud, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

Listed as invasive on Minnesota DNR website
"Ecological Threat:
Garlic mustard spreads into high quality woodlands upland and floodplain forests, not just into disturbed areas.
Invaded sites undergo a decline on native herbaceous cover within 10 years.
Garlic mustard alters habitat suitability for native insects and thereby birds and mammals.
This European exotic occurs now in 27 midwestern and northeastern states and in Canada.
Garlic mustard is on the MDA Prohibited noxious weeds list in Minnesota"

Negative Sherlock_Holmes On Jul 14, 2007, Sherlock_Holmes from Millersburg, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is one of the worst plants I have ever come across. I would prefer to call it Hitler-Weed, because it invades anywhere and everywhere it can. When it first starts to grow in an area, it only takes a few years to explode in numbers until a sea of white can be seen everywhere. Around here, it seems to grow everywhere and it is quickly wiping out many of the native species of plants.

I will list its uses as an edible wild plant, but I refuse to ever recommend it for planting in the home garden.

"The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America: Nature's Green Feast" by Francois Couplan, Ph.D. says...

"The leaves have a very definite smell and taste of garlic. They are slightly bitter, with a sweetish aftertaste and make an excellent addition to salads. With cooking, they lose their aroma while retaining mostly their bitterness and are therefore better raw.

The plant was formerly much eaten to Europe. It contains a glucoside (sinigrin) and essential oils. Hedge garlic is diuretic, vulnerary and antiputrefactive. The seeds can be used as a spice, but they are bitter as well as pungent."

"Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide" by Elias & Dykeman says...

"Harvest: Young leaves, blossoms, and seed pods in spring and early summer.

Preparation: Chop tender growth raw in salad; for cooked vegetable steam or boil in little water, season with salt and butter. Use for garlic flavor with meats and vegetables."

"Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America" by Fernald & Kinsey says...

"The old-fashioned garden plant, Garlic-Mustard, a tall biennial with heart-shaped or somewhat triangular stem-leaves smelling like garlic, and with white flowers with 4 petals, borne in a simple terminal cluster, has spread somewhat to roadsides and borders of groves. It is available for those who like the combination.

Evelyn, hiding the identity under the old English names, Jack-By-The-Hedge and Sauce-Alone, said, "eaten, as other Sallets, by all Lovers of Garlick"; and Bryant, nearly a century later, said: "The poor people in the country [England] eat the leaves of this plant with their bread, and on account of the relish they give, call them sauce-alone. They also mix them with Lettuce, use them as a stuffing herb to pork, and eat them with salt-fish."

Perhaps if we get enough people to eat it, we can start to eradicate it.

Negative EloiseH On May 27, 2007, EloiseH from South Hero, VT (Zone 5a) wrote:

This is an exotic and VERY invasive plant. Never saw it around here until maybe three years ago - last year it was widespread in woods and gardens. Have been pulling it agressively from gardens but with acres of woods it is impossible to eradicate it. Plus it is quite irritating to the skin. Shade, sun, it does not care. It spreads everywhere! Horrible! Yet another lesson of why we should not introduce exotics.

Negative tcs1366 On May 6, 2007, tcs1366 from Leesburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

It's extremely invasive here too. Though it pulls up easily... it's just everywhere.

I have found that spraying in the spring (with round-up or weed killer) it helps keep it at bay.

Negative Joan On Apr 1, 2007, Joan from Belfield, ND (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant is listed on the North Dakota invasive/troublesome list and this information is being distributed in a guide developed by the ND Weed Control Association and other agencies.

Plant Features
Biennial, up to 3 feet tall
First year leaves kidney shaped, plants short
Second year, blooms early spring
White flowers with 4 petals
Leaves heart-shaped to triangular-shaped
Leaf edges irregular
Garlic odor when crushed
White slender taproot, S-shaped at the top
May form large patches
Long thin seed capsules, slightly bent at base

Documented in a few areas. Very aggressive, shade tolerant, grows (understory) in wooded areas.

Interesting Facts
Escaped garden plant
Very invasive, releases toxins that inhibits other plant growth (allelopathic)
Ballistic seed dispersal, seed capsules erupt dispersing tiny black seeds over 10 feet

Negative pineapplesage On May 1, 2006, pineapplesage from Pewaukee, WI wrote:

This is one of the most invasive plants in Wisconsin. I am pretty sure it is illegal to plant it. The field behind my house is over run with it and it keeps spring up in my yard. An awful invasive plant.

Negative CaptMicha On Jan 5, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

A very, very bad plant. It'll escape from you and form mass colonies wherever they can. I had the misfortune of moving onto a property that was already established with them.

The only good thing about this plant is that it pulls up easily, but the tiny seed spread like crazy and even worse, the plant attracts ants like a magnet.

It crowds out native plants and everything else and therefor I would highly encourage killing any plants on site.

4/11/08: I've remained stringent with mowing them before they flower so they don't set seed. I get the rest with a weed whacker, where I can't mow. It has done WONDERS. You have to keep it up for the next few years to completely knock it out. Unless... You have neighbors who let it thrive and you'll probably end up with them again.

Negative Equilibrium On Dec 4, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

Horribly invasive. Nasty plant. Creates a seedbank that goes on giving for years to come. Very easy to pull out by hand so requires no chemicals what so ever to eradicate. You can easily get about 90% the first year in a very short period of time and in year two you get the rest. This is a non-native biennial so the next few years you will need to look for the newly emerging rosettes.

Burn or bag and toss in your garbage as the tiny black seeds will come back to get you if you add this to your composter.

Negative jesup On May 9, 2004, jesup from Malvern, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

Evil plant.

In my area of chester county, PA, it runs rampant in fields and along roads and spreads into the woods.

When I bought this property, it was covered by them. Fairly serious weeding before seed sets (preferably during bloom, when they're easy to pick out) does make a big dent in a year, and a massive dent in two. But it will be a bunch of years before I have it under control in the area around the house. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to fully control it in the woods nearby, but I believe it can be controlled to a large degree with work every spring.

Note: it forms deep taproots in the summer/fall, and the next year it comes up in big clumps. If you can make a pass weeding in the fall you might cut into that. Also, in this area the fall clumps are semi-evergreen through the winter. Note that in loose soil it's very easily pulled even with a taproot; this year's seedlings are trivial.

Negative garyon On Apr 27, 2004, garyon from Syracuse, NY wrote:

Three years ago there were only a few plants on our one-acre garden area. I should have erridicated it then, for it has now taken over. It overran and killed our large bloodroot patch, and has threatened other areas as well.
We are attempting to pull every plant we can before it goes to seed this year, and cut down every plant we cannot pull. We understand that the seed is viable for up to 7 years, and that erridication will be a long-term undertaking.

Negative PurplePansies On Mar 10, 2004, PurplePansies from Deal, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is an evil evil plant...... if you want mustard flavor plant mustard or arugula..... garlic chives and of course garlic also work..... spreads through runners and seeds....... mostly seeds...... can eradicate by pulling before plants flower or at least set their seeds in spring.... this is a noxious weed in many places..... banned in many places...... do not grow..... it chokes out our native forests and meadows...... not worth the trouble.......

Neutral Baa On Jan 10, 2002, Baa wrote:

Before I begin the description I would like to say that this particular plant will, without a doubt, escape into the wild. It is native to Europe ONLY, anywhere else it is an introduced, invasive, undesirable weed which displaces native flora and rapidly takes over a large area. It is also difficult and expensive to erradicate.

If you are considering growing this plant outside of Europe, I would respectfully suggest further reading.

It has heart shaped, toothed, mid green, deeply veined leaves with a distinct garlic smell when crushed. It bears tiny, white, 4 petalled flowers borne in a ring on the end of the stems. It is a biennial which only flowers in its 2nd year.

Flowers April - July

Will run rampant on well drained alkaline soils in sun or shade.

The leaves are edible in salads, sauces and with salted meat as it has a very mild garlic taste.

Once used as a medicinal herb; externally it was used as in an antiseptic to treat skin ulcers and gangrene. The juice was also boiled up with honey and used to treat dropsy.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cos Cob, Connecticut
Algonquin, Illinois
Itasca, Illinois
Valparaiso, Indiana
Iowa City, Iowa
Hebron, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Oakland, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Erie, Michigan
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Royal Oak, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan
University Center, Michigan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dover, New Hampshire
Belleville, New Jersey
Neptune, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York
Canaan, New York
Greene, New York
New Lebanon, New York
Staten Island, New York
Syracuse, New York
Andrews, North Carolina
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Lewis Center, Ohio
Massillon, Ohio
Wren, Ohio
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2 reports)
Tioga, Pennsylvania
Wichita Falls, Texas
South Hero, Vermont
Leesburg, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Great Cacapon, West Virginia
Franklin, Wisconsin
Oostburg, Wisconsin

We recommend Firefox
Overwhelmed? There's a lot to see here. Try starting at our homepage.

[ Home | About | Advertise | Media Kit | Mission | Featured Companies | Submit an Article | Terms of Use | Tour | Rules | Privacy Policy | Contact Us ]

Back to the top

Copyright © 2000-2015 Dave's Garden, an Internet Brands company. All Rights Reserved.

Hope for America