by Cindy Olsen
If you take a hike on Sheldrake’s trails today, you’ll notice a few plants that are doing very well along the sides of the path. One of such plants is Garlic Mustard.
If you pick a leaf, crush it and smell it, you will quickly know how it got its name. The plant is edible and can be used in salads, to make pesto or other sauces. The plant has an interesting history. Early European settlers brought the herb here to use as both flavoring and a good source of vitamins A and C. The herb also had medicinal purposes to treat gangrene, ulcers and acted as a diuretic. It was also planted as a form of erosion control. It is considered an invasive species and you can see how it dominates the forest understory at Sheldrake. The garlic mustard in our area have especially benefitted by the large deer population. The deer are not fans of garlic mustard, so they eat the plants other native plants around it, giving the garlic mustard more real estate to enjoy. The deer also disturb the soil and help the garlic mustard seeds in the soil to germinate. Since one garlic mustard plant can generate up to 7,900 seeds and the seeds can remain viable for 5 years…you can see why we have so much of it in our forests.