The Curse of Garlic Mustard

Once you know a thing, there is no unknowing it.  Unfortunately for me, I became aware of the negative impact of garlic mustard, and around this time of year I feel compelled to try to stop it’s spread.  I wish I had more time to garden in our woods and wetlands!

After all these years pulling and cutting garlic mustard, you’d think I might be an expert on it, but I just learned from my good friend, Lindsay Knudsvig, that the seeds of garlic mustard form in what are called siliques.

1330040This is empowering information as I was previously focused only on the flowering garlic mustard i.e., preventing the flowers from maturing by cutting or pulling the plants.  Now, my garlic mustard fighting season will continue so long as I can locate and collect the siliques.

I recently spent three days pulling and mowing at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  Check out this gallery of garlic mustard horrors.

I’m not using any herbicide on the garlic mustard and actually seeing very positive results just cutting and pulling.  Hand pulling is definitely the best way to go when the garlic mustard is nestled in among native plants.  I pulled the garlic mustard from the area around the Scuppernong Spring.IMG_8636

In the areas where it is carpeting the ground, like shown above, mowing is great option.  Either way, eradicating invasive plants is a wonderful way to spend time in nature.  Check out these morels I stumbled upon while pulling garlic mustard at the Hartland Marsh.

Last Saturday I was joined by Arrowhead High School Instructor Greg Bisbee, and a group of young people from the school, along with Marsha and Jeff from The Friends of the Hartland Marsh, for a garlic mustard pulling party.  We worked along the hillside at the Cottonwood Gazebo and north, across the village corn field, on the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property.

IMG_2239IMG_2242IMG_2244There is a long way to go in the battle against garlic mustard!

I spent a wonderful week camping at site #335, my favorite spot at the Ottawa Lake Campground.  Thanks to Jim, Bob and Mark for stopping by to play some guitar and enjoy the campfire.

We have been pulling spotted knapweed and cutting out brush from the lupine fields on the west slope of the sand prairie for 3-4 years now.  Nature is responding and in a few years the whole hillside will be covered with lupine!

I’m a point and shoot photographer and hope someday to learn how to use my camera.  Until then…

See you at The Springs!

8 thoughts on “The Curse of Garlic Mustard

  1. Paul Nice effort! I spent most of three days doing this in all the trail areas Gerry and I sprayed, collecting the GM we missed and their cousin, Dames Rocket. Nice to find a few really nice plants underneath the mess! I did some pulling on the untreated area you opened up. It will take a few years for it to join the rest of the meadow, but we have a great start – thanks!!!


    • Thanks Herb. “Roger” that on the Dames Rocket. I am mowing and pulling it as well. Like garlic mustard, it forms its seeds in siliques so that is something to consider i.e., if you just mow it after the siliques are fully formed, it is possible the seeds will mature to a viable state. So if siliques are already formed, pull and bag it.


  2. Hi Paul. Thanks for the comments and pics. This year Garlic mustard and Dames Rocket are the worst in years and we have been pulling and burning for years. It doesn’t help that neighbors are indifferent, at best, resistant, at worst, to do anything about their GM, DR, buckthorn and locusts. I bought a trimmer and am following your lead in cutting the dense areas of GM and DR and pulling less dense areas. I have noticed a huge increased dispersion of reed canary grass the last couple of seasons in our yard, on our road and at Scuppernong. Have been trying to quell it on our area but man it is persistent and not near water. Take care !


  3. Wow Paul, Your energy and passion for restoration of habitat continue to amaze. Photos are pretty impressive as well. Thanks, Kris J


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