Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard. Alliaria petiolata.
Brassicaceae, the mustard family.

Plant: Erect, leafy, generally unbranched plant 1-3' high, with a terminal raceme of white flowers that eventually cluster above an extended raceme of elongated fruit, and the toothed, heart-shaped leaves. Crushed foliage smells slightly of onion or garlic. Biennial.
Flowers: White, 3/8"-1/2", with four petals four deciduous sepals, and usually six stamens. Flowers are clustered at the end of a raceme that elongates as the fruits develop.
Leaves: Alternate, heart-shaped to triangular, 1"-2.5", with coarse, rounded teeth (crenate), and a pointed tip, on a medium-length stalk (petiole). Stems and underside of leaves are sparsely hairy.
Fruit: Elongated capsules, 1"-2", that diverge from the stalk, forming extended racemes of pods in classic mustard-family fashion.
Blooming: April-June
Habitat: Wood boundaries, clearings, roadsides, weedy areas. Tolerates more shade than some other open-area plants, and is sometimes found inside the first line of trees.

Comments: This European import blooms fairly early in spring, but does not disappear as quickly as many other early spring flowers. It often grow in dense patches. The leaves are edible, with a slight garlic/mustard flavor. They can be boiled as a potherb or used fresh in salads.

Where to find it: Common near the wood borders along the entrance road, and elswhere, and in a few dense stands along the trail near the northwest side of the pond.