Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande
Alliaria alliaria (L.) Britton
Alliaria officinalis Andrz. ex M. Bieb.
Erysimum alliaria L.
Sisymbrium alliaria (L.) Scop.
Garlic mustard is native to Europe, Asia, northwestern Africa, and parts of India and China. “Garlic mustard” is so-called because the crushed leaves smell faintly of garlic, and the leaves, flowers and fruits taste like mild garlic and mustard. (The plant is a member of the mustard family.) Originally introduced to North America during the 1800s as a culinary herb, it is now naturalized and widespread. It has found itself a place on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted list, and on many similar lists. In addition to replacing larges areas previously populated by a variety of wildflowers, garlic mustard inhibits ectomycorrhizal fungi, which play a key role in forest ecosystems.
Identification: Plants are 12-51" (30-130 cm) tall. Young leaves are triangular, with fairly sharp-toothed serrations; older leaves are heart-shaped, with rounded serrations; all are wrinkly. Leaves are 1¾-3" (5-7.5 cm) long and ¾-2" (2-6 cm) wide. Groups of small white flowers, each less than ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter, with four petals, appear on the top. The fruits, called siliques, resemble tiny upward-pointing bean pods.
Plants that are often found near garlic mustard include Cut-leaved toothwort, sweet cicely, and early saxifrage. All three of these are occasionally confused with garlic mustard. However, the leaves differ greatly in these species. Cut-leaved toothwort has very narrow, dark green leaves. Sweet cicely has deeply divided, fernlike leaves and 5-petaled white flowers on stalks. Early saxifrage has leaves only at the base, and branching groups of tiny white flowers on long stalks. Its leaves are vaguely similar, but oval-shaped, not heart-shaped.
Edibility: Leaves, flowers and fruit taste mildly of both garlic and mustard, and can be used to flavor salads and pesto.
Alliaria petiolata on Missouriplants.com
Alliaria petiolata on Wikipedia
Alliaria petiolata on Invasive.org, Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health
Alliaria petiolata on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Alliaria petiolata at Illinois Wildflowers
Alliaria petiolata on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Alliaria petiolata on Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses
Alliaria petiolata on the Plant Conservation Alliance’s Alien Plant Working Group Least Wanted List
Alliaria petiolata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 14 May 2016.