Good Oak News

Monday, May 16, 2011

Its Garlic Mustard Pulling Season!

Perhaps May should be Garlic Mustard Awareness Month? With this agressive invasive species just beginning to flower in southern Wisconsin, its clear to see that it is taking over large parts of our landscape. This biennial weed has two unfair advantages over native plants First, it stays green all winter, so in the absence of prescribed fire it can gather resources in late fall and early spring and get a head start on native plants. Its others secret weapon is chemical warfare: garlic mustard releases chemicals into the soil that kill soil fungus. Our native plants rely upon these fungi in a symbiotic relationship in which the fungus help the plants extract nutrients from the soil and the plants provide the fungus with energy in the form of sugars. Without these fungus native plants are weakened and unable to compete with the invading garlic mustard.

We can turn this first advantage into a disadvantage by herbiciding them in late fall and early spring when native plants are dormant, and by applying prescribed fire which kills seedlings and weakens (and sometimes kills) overwintering rosettes. But by mid-May when the garlic mustard begin to flower, the best advice for most people is to PULL! Take a look at the video below and learn more about identifying and controlling this invasive plant.

Wisconsin Family Forests' Garlic Mustard Video