In the title to this post, I was tempted to call garlic mustard "evil." But I'll stop short of that. Every plant is just trying its best to take over the world.
Nor for its allelopathic roots, which actually inhibit the growth of other plants growing nearby.
And really, how was it supposed to be responsible for bringing over its own pests from Europe to keep it in check? How was it to know American insects wouldn't eat it?
Turns out garlic mustard is getting really good at taking over. But I'm trying to adopt Patterson Clark's zen attitude: invasive weeds aren't evil...they are an untapped abundance.
This is one abundant plant you should learn to tap. Please, before it takes over the forest floor in all of our local parks.
Do the flowers and seedpods remind you of the bittercress I wrote about a couple of weeks ago? They're in the same family, along with mustard greens, broccoli, and lots of other good-for-you vegetables.
Going out on a garlic mustard pull with people who know what they're doing is one of the best ways to get to know this plant safely, and a great way to help maintain a local park. There are organized efforts throughout our area; check our calendar for invasive plant pulls. Montgomery County even holds an annual Garlic Mustard Challenge -- last year they pulled over 5 tons of garlic mustard from county parks.
And after you go on a garlic mustard pull, you should bring home some of the garlic mustard you pulled, and you should eat it. You can eat the leaves and stems raw or cooked. My favorite method is to substitute garlic mustard for the basil and the garlic in pesto. Or check out the recipes from the Patapsco Garlic Mustard Challenge: how about some garlic mustard ravioli to go with your pesto?
Want another way to tap this abundant resource? Check out this papermaking class.