Grappling with Garlic Mustard

Grappling with Garlic Mustard

Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, is an invasive species affecting forested lands and their ecotones throughout the northeast. Agencies of Western New York state, including The Buffalo Audubon Society, Western New York Land Conservancy, Friends of Reinstein Woods and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have joined forces to improve habitats of three natural areas in the region. The collaborating agencies have organized the “New York Garlic Mustard Challenge” which is set to kick off on April 18, 2015. The Challenge invites volunteer groups, garden clubs, civic organizations, schools, families and others to participate in a friendly competition whose outcome will enhance the habitat no matter who wins.

Garlic mustard can be an annual or biennial herb and is in the Brassicaceae family, the same as broccoli. It is listed as a noxious weed on the federal and many state registers.

Garlic mustard can be an annual or biennial herb and is in the Brassicaceae family, the same as broccoli. It is listed as a noxious weed on the federal and many state registers.

As Meaghan Boice-Green, Reinstein Woods Center Director puts it;  “Garlic mustard is an invasive species that is harming forests in Western New York. The ‘Garlic Mustard Challenge’ gets people outside in nature and uses their collective volunteer power in an exciting and effective way.”

Originally introduced by European settlers planting it for food, garlic mustard quickly escaped gardens, multiplied and spread throughout the ecosystem. It continues to take over the niches of native plants such as trillium (Trillium spp.) and Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria). Easily identified and removed, last year’s challenge produced over 5,000 lbs of the invasive plant by participating volunteers. And this year amounts are expected to rise further as there are 3 locations at which to participate:

  • Buffalo Audubon’s Beaver Meadow Nature Center in North Java (Wyoming County)
  • DEC’s Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Cheektowaga (Erie County)
  • Western New York Land Conservancy’s Kenneglenn Preserve in Wales (Erie County)

Kick off events will be held at the Buffalo Audubon property and Reinstein Woods on April 18, 2015 at 11 a.m. At that time volunteers will have the opportunity to learn how to properly identify and remove garlic mustard as well as the contest rules. After that participants may continue to pull out as much garlic mustard as the would like until the challenge’s finish date of June 18, 2015. For more information on participation, please contact Matt Nusstein at Reinstein Woods 716-683-5959 or search for “Garlic Mustard Challenge” on Facebook.