Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolate)

Garlic Mustard in flower is now a common site on our farms, along track edges, ditches and margins.

It is a tall flowering plant and belongs to the Mustard family. It is found across Europe, Western and Central Asia and North West Africa. The large triangular shaped leaves appear in early Spring, with flowers in April to June. The four petalled white flowers are borne at the stem tips and the stem elongates as the seed pods develop. The seed pods are long and thin, resembling other seeds from the Mustard family.

garlic mustard in flower

Garlic Mustard is between 40 and 120 cm tall, and the flowers are 3 – 5 mm across. Other names include Jack-by-the- hedge, Hedge Garlic and Poor Man’s mustard.

When crushed, the leaves have a distinct garlic odour and can be used for flavouring food. It was used in the 17th century as a flavouring for salted fish, and also leaves were used in a sauce for roast meats. The leaves are also a very good source of vitamin A and C and have been used for many medicinal purposes. Parts of the plant have been used as a disinfectant, a diuretic and even to treat gangrene and ulcers, over the centuries.

 orange tip butterfly on stinging nettle

Garlic Mustard serves as the foodplant for the caterpillars of the Orange-tip Butterfly, they feed particularly on the seed pods.

Another white wildflower visible at this time of the year is the cuckooflower.  Read more here