Now is the time to hunt for garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) a biennial flowering plant in the mustard family (Brassicaceae) and remove it.
Spring rain has made the ground soft which helps with removal of garlic mustard’s tap root. This root only goes down for about an inch, then takes an abrupt turn. When you pull slowly, you can feel which way the root goes and pull accordingly. If all of it is not removed, it will grow back like a dandelion. It will also start blooming in our area soon, making it easier to find.
It is native to large areas of Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa. It was brought here by early settlers as a garden herb, but has broken free of the gardeners patch and is now considered an invasive species.
During the first year of growth, plants form rosette clumps of heart shaped, slightly wrinkled leaves that smell like garlic. The next year plants flower in spring, producing white flowers, and as the flowering stems bloom they stretch into a spike-like shape. This pain-in-the-butt plant has enough energy in it, that if you pull it while it’s blooming, it can still produce seeds, which are released during the early summer.
So what can be done about this invasive species? EAT IT!
Garlic mustard can be found growing almost anywhere, but prefers a shady location. Procuring this herb is as easy as traveling to your nearest forest preserve. Removing native plants from protected parks is illegal, but because of garlic mustard’s invasive status, most parks will encourage you to take all you’d like.
Garlic Mustard Recipes:
Garlic Mustard Scallion Cakes
2 eggs, 1 bunch scallions, chopped 1 pkg flour tortilla, 1 cup garlic mustard – chopped, 2 tsp sesame oil oil for frying. Mix scallions and garlic mustard. Beat together eggs and sesame oil. Brush on side of a tortilla with egg mixture. Sprinkle on scallion/garlic mustard mixture. Brush egg mix on another tortilla, then put on top of 1st tortilla with egg side down (repeat until all tortillas are used). Cover with plate and weigh down with cans to seal tortilla (about 15 minutes). (Separate cakes with wax paper.) Heat oil in heavy pan. Brown cakes on both sides (~2 minutes total). Drain on paper towel. Cut into wedges and serve.
Garlic Mustard Tossed Salad
4-6 leaves ruby red leaf lettuce, 4-6 leaves Romaine Lettuce, 1-2 handfuls tender garlic mustard leaves, French sorrel and bronze fennel, one leaf each 1/3 cup mandarin orange slices, drained 1 slice of smoked salmon, 1/8 cup sunflower seeds, croûtons.
Wash and crisp all the leaves and tear the lettuce leaves into a salad bowl. Cut the garlic mustard leaves, the French sorrel, and the fennel into narrow strips and add to the salad. Cut the oranges and the smoked salmon into thin strips and place in the salad. Sprinkle on sunflower seeds and fresh, herbed croûtons. Dress lightly with Italian dressing. Serve immediately.
Stuffed Garlic Mustard
20 medium garlic mustard leaves, 5 wooden spoonfuls of sausage, 4 wooden spoonfuls of rice, 2 Tbsn. chopped garlic, mustard leaves, 1 Tbsn. lemon juice.
Mix rice and sausage and stir well. Add chopped leaves and lemon and toss. Put a teaspoon of this mix on a medium leaf of garlic mustard. Hold leaf together with a toothpick. Serve on a plate.
© Ilex Farrell – Midwestern Plant Girl