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Garlic Mustard (Alliaria officinalis) is a member of the Brassicaceae or Mustard family. It is a mostly smooth, erect biennial growing up to 3-feet in height. The leaves have the smell of garlic, and are mostly deltoid, coarsely-toothed and are from 1.2- to 2.4-inches long and wide. The 4-petal flowers, borne on short to almost non-existent stalks, are white and only 0.25-inches in length. The Garlic Mustard flowers from April to May. It is highly adaptable being found in moist to dry forest habitats, forest edges, floodplains, as well as along roadsides.
A native of Europe, this plant is found wild in gardens and woods throughout the eastern US. It was introduced to North America by European settlers in the 1800s for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The first known record of the plant is in 1868 on Long Island. The plant is now deemed an invasive species. Since being brought to the United States by settlers, it has naturalized and expanded its range to include most of North East and Midwest, as well as south-eastern Canada. Normally, animals and birds are responsible for a plants expansion. In this case, though, it is the opposite – White-tailed deer assist in its spread by eating native plant species that they prefer and are adapted to eat, leaving the garlic mustard behind to flourish.