Garlic mustard is a flowering plant that is biannual which belongs to the mustard family. Garlic mustard is found in central and western Asia, northwestern Africa, northern and east India and Europe. This plant has life cycle of two years Garlic mustard is a biennial plant that grows from a white, thin deeply growing taproot. The taproot smells like horse radish.
Garlic mustard grow from 30 cm to about 100 cm. Leaves are stalked, heart to triangular shaped. Leaves of garlic mustard are 10 to 15 cms long and 2 to 6 cm broad. Leaves when crushed give an odour of garlic. As leaves start maturing, their odour fades. Their margin is coarsely toothed. .In the first year garnet mustard appears as rosette of leaves that are green in color which are very near to the ground.
During winter the rosettes remain green and in the spring they develop into flowering plants. In spring, flowers are produced and they develop into button like clusters in summer. Each flower has four petals that are white and 4 to 8 mm long and around 2 to 3 mm broad. Flowers are cross shaped. As flowering stems bloom, they get longer and transform into spike like shape. When blooming is complete plants gives upright fruits that give seeds in summer. The fruit is slender, erect four sided pod that is 2 to 7 long and green in color. The seeds that are shiny black are released when four sided pod splits open.
Some plants have the ability to flower and finish the life cycle in first year itself
in first year itself. A single plant has the ability to produce many seeds which scatter several meters from parent plant. Depending upon the condition, these flowers either are cross pollinated by insects or they self fertilize. Self fertilized seeds are identical genetically to its parent plant and they can colonize the area where the genotype is suitable to thrive. More than 60 species of insects use Garlic Mustard as food plant. White tailed deer also use this plant as their food.
Garlic Mustard is of immense importance and is very useful plant. Flowers, fruits and leaves are fit for human consumption. Their flavor is mild which is a combination of mustard and garlic. They are commonly used in pesto and salads. It is also called as cooking herb. Garlic Mustard is invasive specie. Once they are planted on a new location they spread and persist into several undisturbed plant communities. Garlic mustard has become dominant where they are planted.
They have the capability of dominating and invading other plant communities in the forest. Garlic plant has the ability to displace native plants. It has the capacity to change soil structure and composition. Garlic muster can grow in areas, where there is low light. As its seed production is high they are able to spread rapidly making garland muster a very strong competitor. Garlic mustard can be controlled by cutting and applying herbicides.