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Alliaria petiolata - (M.Bieb.)Cavara.&Grande.

Common Name Garlic Mustard
Family Brassicaceae or Cruciferae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Damp hedgerows, edges of woods and other shady places, preferring basic soils[7, 13, 17, 244].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, south to N. Africa and east to W. Asia and the Himalayas.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Wet Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard

(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
Alliaria petiolata Garlic Mustard


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Alliaria petiolata is a BIENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to June, and the seeds ripen from June to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. officinalis. Erysimum alliaria. Sisymbrium alliaria.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow; Bog Garden;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb or as a flavouring in cooked foods[4, 5, 9, 12, 62, 115, 244]. A mild garlic and mustard flavour, the leaves are also believed to strengthen the digestive system[244]. They can be finely chopped and added to salads[7, 183]. The leaves are available very early in the year and provide a very acceptable flavouring for salads in the winter[K]. Flowers and young seed pods - raw[62]. A mild, garlic-like flavour[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiasthmatic  Antiscorbutic  Antiseptic  Deobstruent  Diaphoretic  Eczema  Sternutatory  Vermifuge  

Garlic mustard has been little used in herbal medicine[268]. The leaves and stems are antiasthmatic, antiscorbutic, antiseptic, deobstruent, diaphoretic, vermifuge and vulnerary[4, 7]. The leaves have been taken internally to promote sweating and to treat bronchitis, asthma and eczema[4]. Externally, they have been used as an antiseptic poultice on ulcers etc[4], and are effective in relieving the itching caused by bites and stings[244]. The leaves and stems are harvested before the plant comes into flower and they can be dried for later use[238]. The roots are chopped up small and then heated in oil to make an ointment to rub on the chest in order to bring relief from bronchitis[245]. The juice of the plant has an inhibitory effect on Bacillus pyocyaneum and on gram-negative bacteria of the typhoid-paratyphoid-enteritis group[240]. The seeds have been used as a snuff to excite sneezing[4].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


A yellow dye is obtained from the whole plant[7].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a damp rich alluvial soil[7, 53]. Succeeds in damp shady places where few other herbs will grow[238]. A good woodland edge plant, it also grows well in the bottom of hedgerows[24] and will self-sow freely in suitable conditions[238]. On a calm day the plant emits a strong smell of garlic. This is especially pronounced if the leaves are bruised[245]. This species is an important food source for the orange-tip butterfly[238]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is a tap root.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow outdoors in situ either in spring or autumn.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common Names: English: garlic-root; garlicwort; hedge-garlic; Jack-by-the-hedge; Jack-in-the-bush; mustard-root; poor-man's-mustard; sauce-alone. Spanish: Ajo mostaza; Hierba del ajo. French: Alliaire officinale. Portuguese: erva-alheira. Germany: Gemeine Knoblauchsrauke. Italy: Alliaria; Erba alliaria. Netherlands: Look-zonder-look. Sweden: Loektrav.

TEMPERATE ASIA: Afghanistan, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Russian Federation-Ciscaucasia (Ciscaucasia), Armenia, Georgia, Russian Federation (Dagestan), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China (Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, Xizang Zizhiqu) TROPICAL ASIA: India (northwest), Nepal, Pakistan EUROPE: Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Russian Federation (European part), Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine (incl. Krym), Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Croatia, Italy (incl. Sicily), North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, France (incl. Corsica), Portugal AFRICA: Morocco, Tunisia

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

An invasive species in much of North America. Listed as a noxious or restricted plant in the US states of Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

lnr   Mon Nov 28 2005

the leaves taste REALLY good

   Mon May 7 2007

This plant is highly invasive in the united states and should not be propogated there. It is highly allelopathic.

curi   Tue May 8 2007

My cat just stole my sample of this plant, ran off with it, and chewed it up. She loved it.

   Fri Aug 3 2007

Should not be spread in the southern reaches of Canada, from coast to coast.

Shivani   Mon Jan 7 2008

Garlic mustard is one of the most invasive exotics I have ever seen. (Some thoughless person brought it from Europe.) If one plant is allowed to go to seed, an entire wooded area can soon be filled with garlic mustard to the exclusion of all the native plants. Here in Wisconsin our Dept. of Natural Resources warns people about this plant and various groups volunteer to pull it up in parks. The seeds stay viable for many years, however,so the same area will have to have the plants pulled up and destroyed for years before it is eradicated. Don't plant it! Shivani in WI

Khono   Sun May 11 2008

It seems the stems are also edible, according to a friend and the following book: Handbook of Nutrition and Food By Carolyn D. Berdanier I'd also like to add that these plants are delicious and there are loads of them around here (just north of Toronto)!

Marinella   Mon Jun 9 2008

Acta plantarum Alliaria petiolata: Description, photos

Leah   Thu Jul 24 2008

DO NOT PLANT THIS PLANT IN THE U.S. OR CANADA, but do harvest it from the wild! If we over-harvest this weed maybe it can be controlled. A word of caution, however: harvest for food only plants that you are sure have not been sprayed with a herbacide, as is done in many natural areas.

Khat K.   Mon Jul 28 2008

This plant, despite all the wonderful uses, is highly invasive across a great portion of the United States, and as it has been mentioned, should really not be planted as our native plants have little adaptation to successfully compete with it. However, a little scavenging will allow a collector to wind up with garbage bags full if he or she only ventures out to an appropriate habitat (woodlands, wetlands, etc...about anywhere, really!). Not only can you stock up on a decent edible, but you can help increase the population of other helpful plants by nixing some of their invasive competitors.

Sherrie   Tue Sep 30 2008

According to Steve Brill, the root can be used like horseradish.


Robert Gergulics   Sat Apr 11 2009

Photos Here. Photorobg.com


   May 1 2013 12:00AM

@Sherrie: Thanks for the tip about the roots! Horse radish grows abundantly in my garden. I will try to pull them out and use the roots. I use the leaves in soups and salads. Delicious! Lia de Ruiter from the Netherlands.

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