Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara & Grande - Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata plant

Family - Brassicaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, herbaceous, single or multiple from thick taproot (which very much smells like a radish when crushed or bruised), erect, branching above, pubescent at very base, glabrous and glaucous above.

Alliaria petiolata stemUpper stem.

Alliaria petiolata stemLower stem.

Leaves - Alternate, glabrous above, sparsely pubescent below. Basal leaves reniform, crenate or sinuate, petiolate, to 10cm broad, 8cm long. Petiole to 15cm long, with single longitudinal groove, groove ciliate on margins. Cauline leaves gradually reduced upwards, cordate to sagittate, sinuate to coarsely toothed.

Alliaria petiolata leafLower cauline leaf.

Alliaria petiolata leafUpper cauline leaf.

Inflorescence - Terminal raceme, greatly elongating in fruit to +25cm.

Alliaria petiolata inflorescence

Flowers - Petals 4, white, glabrous, clawed (the claw to -2mm long), 6-7mm long, 3mm broad at apex. Stamens 6. Filaments to 3mm long, glabrous, white. Anthers yellow, -1mm long. Ovary green, 4-angled, 3mm long, glabrous. Style very short (-.5mm long). Sepals 4, whitish with light green tips, 3-4mm long, 1-2mm broad, linear to subulate. Pedicels to 4mm long, glabrous.

Alliaria petiolata flowerFlower close-up.

Fruits - To +5cm long, 4-angled, glabrous, on thick stalk to 6mm long, erect and parallel to stem, many seeded, style persistent to form very short beak to -1mm long. Fruit stalks at right angles to stem.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Low woods, slopes, streambanks, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This plant is a fairly recent introduction to this state but it spreading like wildfire and can be found almost anywhere. It prefers shaded areas of the habitats mentioned above.
The leaves are edible and are often eaten back in the "old country." They kind of taste like a cross between garlic and radish. The flowers are fairly showy and the plant is attractive but it should not be spread.

Photographs taken at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area, Boone County, MO., 4-11-04.

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