Garlic mustard: An odorous invader

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So far, garlic mustard has only been reported in Edmonton and St. Albert. While this species has not yet been spotted in agricultural areas, early identification and response is key in preventing the spread of this biennial weed.

Garlic mustard has severely invaded forest understoreys in other provinces, as it generally prefers shaded areas and rich, moist soils. Disturbed soils are even more prone to rapid infestations. Despite its preference for shade, it is beginning to become more common in areas exposed to full sun.

Garlic mustard ranges from 30 to 90 centimetres tall. The leaves are alternately arranged on the stem, dark green, heart shaped, and become smaller as you move up the stem. When you crush the leaves they have a distinctly garlicky odour. At the top of the stem, you will find white flowers with four petals, arranged in clusters. The rosettes stay green through the winter and stand out against dead foliage in early spring.

Garlic mustard is a prohibited noxious weed. For more information on this or any invasive plant, contact your local Agricultural Fieldman or the Alberta Invasive Species 

–Dawnia Myshak is an agricultural fieldman for the MD of Lesser Slave River.

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