Garlic Mustard is a kitchen herb from Europe that is invading forest understories across southern and eastern Ontario. It can outcompete and overtake herbs, flowers and tree seedlings, eventually creating stands of nothing but Garlic Mustard, and threatening the productivity and long-term survival of the trees themselves.
Garlic Mustard Removal on International Biodiversity Day
Since Biodiversity Day 2009, approved groups, following a strict protocol, have either cut or pulled Garlic Mustard from carefully selected locations, bagged and removed the cuttings, and carefully disposed of them. They then return to the site in future years and remove any new sprouts until the seedbank is exhausted.
The following resources are provided for coordinators of garlic mustard pulls:
- An event checklist. Everything that you will have to do from beginning to end.
- The Garlic Mustard Protocol and appendix of “lookalikes”, which provide the specific information you will need to have a safe, effective and rewarding event.
- A Garlic Mustard factsheet.
- A Garlic Mustard rangemap.
- An education program - Pulling for Biodiversity – if you are involving a school group.
- A link to Garlic Mustard Identification and Control, an excellent, 13-minute video; scroll about half-way down the page.
What Can You Do?
We do not recommend that individuals go out and pull Garlic Mustard on their own, except on their own property, for the following reasons:
- There are native species that look like Garlic Mustard, particularly in the spring, and in early stages of growth. It is too easy to pull or cut the wrong plant.
- New plants can grow from disturbed soil. Without a commitment to return and remove new plants each year, growth of Garlic Mustard can actually be encouraged.
- Seeds are very tiny, and easily transported on clothing, in mud clinging to boots, or on pet fur. Without careful cleanup, the range of Garlic Mustard can actually be increased.
- If there are any endangered species in the area you may be required under law to obtain a permit. Please consult with the proper provincial and federal authorities on the Species at Risk permitting requirements.
What you can do to support the identification and control of Garlic Mustard:
- Learn to identify the plant, and learn more about it.
- Identify areas where you think Garlic Mustard is growing; particularly areas where it is beginning to invade the forest understory.
- Avoid walking through areas there you think Garlic Mustard exists. People tracking seed to new locations is a prime means of dispersal.
- Alert property owners to its presence, and the problems that it can cause. If it is on public lands, talk to the land manager (e.g. municipal park, conservation authority, provincial or federal park) about the problem and what they are doing about it.
The Ojibway Nature Centre near Windsor uses their Friends of Ojibway Prairie to remove Garlic Mustard every spring. If you live in the area, consider joining the Friends and helping out.
There is a global Garlic Mustard field survey that you and/or your group can get engaged in this spring and summer. Good field data is urgently needed.