Garlic mustard (Alliara petiolata) is not native to North America, but is commonly found throughout the woodlands and savannas of east central Illinois.
The plants are considered invasive because they out-compete native spring wildflowers for the light, nutrients, and space, alter soil chemistry, and lack predators outside of their native range in Europe. They also produce thousands of seeds per plant, which remain viable in the soil for several years. Garlic mustard is incredibly adaptive, and therefore it can increasingly be found in urban and suburban parks and gardens, increasing the costs of management.
The Headwaters Invasive Plant Partnership (HIPP), comprised of Master Naturalists, Park Districts, the University of Illinois, and many more volunteers and representatives from partnering agencies of the program, has organized efforts to protect our native diversity through the Great Garlic Mustard Hunt, now in its fifth year. By pulling the plants, we keep them from spreading seed. Eventually the large-scale weeding of woodlands will be reduced to sweeping the areas for new plants that were brought in inadvertently as seeds on a hiker’s boot or the fur of a deer, or seeds deposited from unmanaged sites upriver during flood events.
Please consider joining us at one of our scheduled events, because every additional garlic mustard plant we pull equals thousands of seeds and years of reproductive potential being removed. It is also a great time to be in the woods to witness and learn more about the beautiful spring ephemeral wildflowers we are attempting to protect.
To find out more about garlic mustard, and other invasive plants that threaten our local natural areas, please visit http://www.ilhipp.org.
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