Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard as an Invasive Species

Garlic mustard was introduced to North America in the 19th century as an edible herb. Today, it has become one of Ontario’s most aggressive invaders competing with native wildflowers for sunlight, water and nutrients. Garlic mustard also has a strong root system that alters the soil and kills necessary fungal communities. It is fast spreading and each plant produces 150-850 seeds per plant! This invader continues to threaten Ontario’s species at risk. This plant is investigated in our program Wild in the City.

Identifying Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard is found in moist places, such as woodlands, parks and trails. It has dark green kidney shaped leaves with toothed edges. When crushed, the leaves smell like garlic. In it’s first year, garlic mustard grows close to the ground in a rosette. In it’s second year, garlic mustard’s leaves are arranged alternately on a tall round stem. This plant produces white flowers with four-petals on a stalk 2-3 feet high in spring. Take a look at these pictures below.

Garlic Mustard

Taking Action

 The stem of garlic mustard can be pulled out easily, however if the roots are broken, the plant will sprout again. Pulled out plants must be placed in the garbage for disposal. Learn more about identifying and removing garlic mustard from these helpful websites:

Ontario Invasive Plants 

Ministry of Natural Resources 

Using Garlic Mustard

This plant has a strong smell of garlic and also high in vitamins A and C. Check out this delicious recipe!

Garlic Mustard Pesto

Fresh garlic mustard is quite bitter, and making it into pesto seems to neutralize the bitterness. Even still, it maintains an intense flavour, which will mellow if let to sit for 3 to 4 hours. Add to pasta, or eat as dip with pita. The pesto can be frozen for later use. 

3 cups (packed) fresh Garlic Mustard leaves

3-4 cloves garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/3 cup pinenuts, pecans, or sunflower seeds (optional)

¾ tsp salt

1.Put all ingredients together into a food processor

2. Run at high speed until all ingredients are finely chopped into a dark green paste

3. Taste, and add up to ¼ tsp more salt if necessary

Recipe Adapted from


Huffman, L. (2005). Problem Weed of the Month: Garlic Mustard. Retrieved from

Ontario’s Invading Species Awareness Program. (n.d.). Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata. Retrieved from

Toronto Zoo. (n.d.). Invasive Species Management. Retrieved from


Plant - Atkin, T., (Photographer). (2006). Garlic Mustard - Alliaria petiolata. Retrieved from

Flower - McCormack, T., (Photographer). (2005). Alliaria petiolata. Retrieved from

Lower Leaf - Tenaglia D., (Photographer). (2004). Lower cauline leaf.Retrieved from