State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande

  • Arabis petiolata M. Bieb.
  • Alliaria officinalis Andrz. ex M. Bieb.
  • Erysimum alliaria L.
  • Sisymbrium alliaria (L.) Scop.
Vernacular Name
Jack-by-the-hedge, Garlic Mustard, Garlic Root, Hedge Garlic, Sauce-alone, Jack-in-the-bush, Penny Hedge, Poor Man's Mustard
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
Medicinal plant; Poisonous species; Edible
Occurrence: Al, Ar, Au(A), Be(B, L), BH, Br, Bu, By, Co, Cs, Ct, Da, Es, Fe, Ga(F), Ge, Gr, Hb(E), He, Ho, Hs(A, S), Hu, It, La, LS, Lt, Lu, Ma, Mk, Mo, No, Po, Rf, Rm, Si(S), Sk, Sl, Sr, Su, Tu(E), Uk(K, U) (EuroMed, 2018). A biennial flowering plant in the Mustard family, Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, western and central Asia, and northwestern Africa, from Morocco, Iberia and the British Isles, north to northern Scandinavia, and east to northern Pakistan and western China (Xinjiang). In the first year of growth, plants form clumps of round shaped, slightly wrinkled leaves, that when crushed smell like garlic. The next year plants flower in spring, producing cross shaped white flowers in dense clusters. As the flowering stems bloom they elongate into a spike-like shape. When blooming is complete, plants produce upright fruits that release seeds in mid-summer. All parts of the plant, including the roots, give off a strong odor. In 17th century Britain, it was recommended as a flavoring for salt fish. It can also be made into a sauce for eating with roast lamb or salad. Early European settlers brought the herb to the New World to use as a garlic type flavoring, and as a good source of vitamins A and C. Its traditional medicinal purposes include use as a diuretic. The herb was also planted as a form of erosion control. The plant is classified as an invasive species in North America. Since being brought to the United States by settlers, it has naturalized and expanded its range to include most of the Northeast and Midwest, as well as southeastern Canada. It is one of the few invasive herbaceous species able to dominate the understory of North American forests and has thus reduced the biodiversity of many areas. Depending upon conditions, garlic mustard flowers either self-fertilize or are cross-pollinated by a variety of insects. Self-fertilized seeds are genetically identical to the parent plant, enhancing its ability to colonize an area where that genotype is suited to thrive. Sixty nine insect herbivores and seven fungi are associated with garlic mustard in Europe. The most important groups of natural enemies associated with garlic mustard were weevils (particularly the genus Ceutorhynchus), leaf beetles, butterflies, and moths, including the larvae of some moth species such as the Garden Carpet moth. Garlic mustard is one of the oldest discovered spices to be used in cooking in Europe. Evidence of its use has been found from archeological remains found in the Baltic, dating back to 4100-3750 B.C.E. The chopped leaves are used for flavoring in salads and sauces such as pesto, and sometimes the flowers and fruit are included as well. These are best when young, and provide a mild flavor of both garlic and mustard. Garlic mustard was introduced to North America as a culinary herb in the 1860s and is an invasive species across much of that continent. It is toxic or unpalatable to many native herbivores, as well as to some native Lepidoptera.
Book reference
  • Кузярін О.Т. Судинні рослини території торфовища "Білогорща” (м. Львів) // Наукові основи збереження біотичної різноманітності. - 2010. - Т.1(8), №1. - С.75-90.
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  • Alexander KUZYARIN, Dr, e-mail:

Taxonomic branch