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Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) – a gift to your pantry from the Woodlands

Biennial herb
Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic, Jack by the Hedge, Jack in the Bush, Poor Man’s Mustard, Sauce Alone, Penny Hedge, Garlic Wort, Bóchoinneal

Bear & I like to wander the gardens and yard with a drink in hand. It’s a wilson family tradition, that I picked up from him. When his mom comes to visit, they get lost for hours just walking and talking about the plants. yesterday we noticed a new plant on the edges of the woods. Garlic Mustard!

A quick online search and it’s false reputation quickly comes to light. DNR has declared this a a “noxious weed” in the US. Allow me to translate: it’s abundantly available, and likely has edible and medicinal benefits – much like dandelions. I’m not kidding here: the more you learn about how much of our world is based on keeping us dependent as consumers, the more you see how much the “authorities” declare is not in our best interest.

Turns out it’s delicious, like a garlicy, mustardy basil. AND Good for you! also super freely available. See details below.

Garlic mustard leaves (Alliaria petiolata)
Garlic mustard young leaves (Alliaria petiolata)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Garlic Mustard
Alliaria petiolata
Brassicaceae (Cabbage)

Garlic Mustard is a source of food for the caterpillars of the orange-tip butterfly, making it ecologically important, it’s also widely and well used in erosion control.

Forage Leaves early to mid-spring. Seeds early to late summer.

It could be confused with Honesty (Lunaria annua) by the leaves, but it has purple flowers. Garlic Mustard also resembles Yellow Archangel (Lamium galeobdolon), however flowers are yellow and leaves are often variegated. None of those two smell of garlic, like it does Hedge Garlic.

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves and stems are antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary[4, 7]. The leaves have been taken internally to promote sweating and to treat bronchitis, asthma and eczema[4]. Externally, they have been used as an antiseptic poultice on ulcers etc[4], and are effective in relieving the itching caused by bites and stings[244]. The leaves and stems are harvested before the plant comes into flower and they can be dried for later use[238]. The roots are chopped up small and then heated in oil to make an ointment to rub on the chest in order to bring relief from bronchitis[245]. The juice of the plant has an inhibitory effect on Bacillus pyocyaneum and on gram-negative bacteria of the typhoid-paratyphoid-enteritis group[240].

    Excellent for controlling weight.
    Improves the health of your heart
    Lowers cholesterol
    Thins the blood
    May help prevent cancer
    Strengthens the immune system

    The leaves are effective in relieving the itching caused by bites and stings and have been used to treat asthma, bronchitis and eczema. This versatile wild edible was used by settlers or medicinal purposes, treating gangrene and ulcers.

  • Edible Use

    Garlic mustard greens are very nutritious as they have substantial amounts of vitamins A, C, E and some of the B vitamins and was inevitably introduced to the U.S. by early settlers. It was used as a vegetable for its high vitamin A and C content, this wild weed contains potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron and manganese as well as omega-3 fatty acids.

    Every part of the plant is edible. The flowers make a pretty garnish for salads and the dried seeds work as a poor man’s mustard. The long thin taproot has a mild horseradish flavor too. The flavor is a pleasant mixture of mild garlic and a hint of mustard, though it can become bitter after flowering.

    The leaves are often finely chopped and added to salads or eaten in cheese sandwiches. A “pesto” sauce seems to be a forager’s favorite, but it also pairs very well with lamb. If forced to use older leaves (young leaves are tastier; less bitter), add to your soups and stews at the very end of cooking; that will maximize the savory and minimize the bitter.

  • Cautionary Notes

    No hazards known.

Cultivation & Habitat

Hedge garlic is an herbaceous biennial plant, meaning it has a two-year life cycle. In the first year, it forms a compact basal rosette of heart-shaped leaves with rough teeth. During year two, Garlic Mustard develops a flower stalk and reaches up to 120cm tall. The seed pods are green and thin.
Native throughout Europe, North Africa, western and central Asia. Introduced in North America, where it’s considered invasive. Very common throughout England, Wales, south Scotland and east Ireland.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.