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Alliaria petiolata - (M.Bieb.)Cavara.&Grande.                
Common Name Garlic Mustard
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Damp hedgerows, edges of woods and other shady places, preferring basic soils[7, 13, 17, 244].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, south to N. Africa and east to W. Asia and the Himalayas.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade


Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Alliaria petiolata is a BIENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to June, and the seeds ripen from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, lepidoptera, self.The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist or wet soil.

A. officinalis. Erysimum alliaria. Sisymbrium alliaria.
Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb or as a flavouring in cooked foods[4, 5, 9, 12, 62, 115, 244]. A mild garlic and mustard flavour, the leaves are also believed to strengthen the digestive system[244]. They can be finely chopped and added to salads[7, 183]. The leaves are available very early in the year and provide a very acceptable flavouring for salads in the winter[K]. Flowers and young seed pods - raw[62]. A mild, garlic-like flavour[K].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiasthmatic;  Antiscorbutic;  Antiseptic;  Deobstruent;  Diaphoretic;  Sternutatory;  Vermifuge;  Vulnerary.

Garlic mustard has been little used in herbal medicine[268]. The leaves and stems are antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary[4, 7]. The leaves have been taken internally to promote sweating and to treat bronchitis, asthma and eczema[4]. Externally, they have been used as an antiseptic poultice on ulcers etc[4], and are effective in relieving the itching caused by bites and stings[244]. The leaves and stems are harvested before the plant comes into flower and they can be dried for later use[238]. The roots are chopped up small and then heated in oil to make an ointment to rub on the chest in order to bring relief from bronchitis[245]. The juice of the plant has an inhibitory effect on Bacillus pyocyaneum and on gram-negative bacteria of the typhoid-paratyphoid-enteritis group[240]. The seeds have been used as a snuff to excite sneezing[4].
Other Uses

A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant[7].
Cultivation details
Prefers a damp rich alluvial soil[7, 53]. Succeeds in damp shady places where few other herbs will grow[238]. A good woodland edge plant, it also grows well in the bottom of hedgerows[24] and will self-sow freely in suitable conditions[238]. On a calm day the plant emits a strong smell of garlic. This is especially pronounced if the leaves are bruised[245]. This species is an important food source for the orange-tip butterfly[238].
Seed - sow outdoors in situ either in spring or autumn.
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Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
lnr Mon Nov 28 2005
the leaves taste REALLY good
Elizabeth H.
Mon May 7 2007
This plant is highly invasive in the united states and should not be propogated there. It is highly allelopathic.
Elizabeth H.
curi Tue May 8 2007
My cat just stole my sample of this plant, ran off with it, and chewed it up. She loved it.
Elizabeth H.
Fri Aug 3 2007
Should not be spread in the southern reaches of Canada, from coast to coast.
Elizabeth H.
Shivani Mon Jan 7 2008
Garlic mustard is one of the most invasive exotics I have ever seen. (Some thoughless person brought it from Europe.) If one plant is allowed to go to seed, an entire wooded area can soon be filled with garlic mustard to the exclusion of all the native plants. Here in Wisconsin our Dept. of Natural Resources warns people about this plant and various groups volunteer to pull it up in parks. The seeds stay viable for many years, however,so the same area will have to have the plants pulled up and destroyed for years before it is eradicated. Don't plant it! Shivani in WI
Elizabeth H.
Khono Sun May 11 2008
It seems the stems are also edible, according to a friend and the following book: Handbook of Nutrition and Food By Carolyn D. Berdanier I'd also like to add that these plants are delicious and there are loads of them around here (just north of Toronto)!
Elizabeth H.
Marinella Mon Jun 9 2008

Acta plantarum Alliaria petiolata: Description, photos

Elizabeth H.
Leah Thu Jul 24 2008
DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT IN THE U.S. OR CANADA, but do harvest it from the wild! If we over-harvest this weed maybe it can be controlled. A word of caution, however: harvest for food only plants that you are sure have not been sprayed with a herbacide, as is done in many natural areas.
Elizabeth H.
Khat K. Mon Jul 28 2008
This plant, despite all the wonderful uses, is highly invasive across a great portion of the United States, and as it has been mentioned, should really not be planted as our native plants have little adaptation to successfully compete with it. However, a little scavenging will allow a collector to wind up with garbage bags full if he or she only ventures out to an appropriate habitat (woodlands, wetlands, etc...about anywhere, really!). Not only can you stock up on a decent edible, but you can help increase the population of other helpful plants by nixing some of their invasive competitors.
Elizabeth H.
Sherrie Tue Sep 30 2008
According to Steve Brill, the root can be used like horseradish.

Elizabeth H.
Robert Gergulics Sat Apr 11 2009
Photos Here.

Lia D.
May 1 2013 12:00AM
@Sherrie: Thanks for the tip about the roots! Horse radish grows abundantly in my garden. I will try to pull them out and use the roots. I use the leaves in soups and salads. Delicious! Lia de Ruiter from the Netherlands.
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Subject : Alliaria petiolata  

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