Garlic Mustard – Alliaria petiolata
Alliaria petiolata is a biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family, It is native to Europe
In the first year of growth, plants form clumps of round shaped, slightly wrinkled leaves, that when crushed smell like garlic. The next year plants flower in spring, producing cross shaped white flowers in dense clusters. As the flowering stems bloom they elongate into a spike-like shape. When blooming is complete, plants produce upright fruits that release seeds in mid-summer. Plants are often found growing along the margins of hedges, giving rise to the old British folk name of Jack-by-the-hedge. Other common names include Garlic Mustard, Garlic Root, Hedge Garlic, Sauce-alone, Jack-in-the-bush, Penny Hedge and Poor Man’s Mustard. The genus name Alliaria, “resembling Allium“, refers to the garlic-like odour of the crushed foliage. Some people give the species name Alliaria officinalisfor this plant.
All parts of the plant, including the roots, give off a strong odour. In 17th century Britain it was recommended as a flavouring for salt fish. It can also be made into a sauce for eating with roast lamb or salad Early European settlers brought the herb to the New World to use as a garlic type flavoring, and as a good source of vitamins A and C. The herbs medicinal purposes include use as a disinfectant, a diuretic and sometimes being used to treat gangrene and ulcers. The herb was also planted as a form of erosion control.