Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that cause harm to the environment, economy and even human health. The Adirondack region has an opportunity to prevent invasive species from widely spreading. We need your help to identify invasive species, report sightings and use best management practices to control their spread.
Who am I?
In its first year of growth, garlic mustard has kidney-shaped leaves that form a rosette near the ground.
(Photo — Tom Heutte, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org)
In its second year of growth, garlic mustard grows to heights of 4 feet and has alternating, coarsely toothed, triangular leaves and white flowers.
(Photo — Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org)
Garlic mustard produces long, slender seed pods.
(Photo — Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program)
I am garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata).
Why am I problematic?
I form dense infestations and compete for available light, nutrients and water resources, choking out native wildflowers and tree seedlings.
Where did I come from?
I am a tasty herb from Europe and was introduced to the U.S. in the 1860s.
What do I look like?
In my first year of growth, I have kidney-shaped leaves that grow in rosettes of four to eight leaves near the ground. In my second year, I grow to heights of 4 feet and have alternating, coarsely toothed, triangular leaves. My leaves smell like garlic when crushed. I also have white flowers that bloom in early summer that then form a slender, straight seed pod.
Where do I grow?
I grow along property edges, roadsides, trails and other disturbed areas. I also invade wooded areas.
How do I spread?
I produce up to 3,000 seeds per plant that can be transported in soils or attach to hiking shoes and gear.
How do you get rid of me?
I can be controlled by hand-pulling plants and roots before I set seed, or, if seeds have set, carefully remove them first. Place all plant material in trash bags, and never compost. Check the site each year because I can keep growing from seeds that persist in the soil.
Who looks like me?
I may look like native plants. First- year rosettes may look like violets or kidney-leaf buttercup. Always confirm identification before taking action.
What can landowners do?
Keep a lookout for garlic mustard and report any sightings to iMapInvasives (www.nyimapinvasives.com). Always use non-invasive plants in gardens and landscapes. Use weed-free soil for fill. Always clean boots and gear when you leave the trail or campsites.
For more information, log onto www.adkinvasives.com or contact the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program at 518-576-2082.
Eye on Invasives is a seasonal, biweekly column that spotlights a top invader when it is easiest to identify. Hilary Smith directs the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership program housed at the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley. Find out more about this award-winning program online at www.adkinvasives.com.