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Garlic Mustard

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Common flower of spring along hedgerows and woodland edges.



Garlic Mustard: Jack by the hedge

Post date: Wednesday, 21 May, 2014 - 00:00

The field guides tell you what garlic mustard (Alliaria Petiolata) looks like but they do not tell you what it tastes like. Given its name, it must be quite potent! In fact, the name comes from the fact that the leaves give off a faint garlic smell when crushed and the plant belongs to the mustard family (a cabbage species). It has long been a plant used for culinary purposes becuase of its strong flavouring. It has also been used as a disinfectant apparently! I wonder if drinking tea made from the roots tastes like Domestos?

This is a plant I always knew as Jack-by-the-Hedge and it almost exclusively grows along hedgerows and woodland edges, mainly on chalk soils and so it is not uncommon down here in Dorset. It comes in to flower in April and can hang on in to July. In May it can line a hedgerow with these white clusters of small, four petalled flowers.

Although easily passed by without a second glance, this plant is a good place to look for early insects. It is an important food plant for several species, especially the orange-tip butterfly which emerges in to its flight stage to coincide with garlic mustard coming in to flower as it lays its orange eggs on the plant and the larvae feed on it.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Garlic Mustard
Alternative Name(s) Jack-in-the-pulpit, Jack-by-the-hedge
Scientific Name Alliaria Petiolata
Family Cabbage family - Cruciferae
Status Common
Interest Level
Species Family Cabbage Family - Crucifereae
Flower Colour Group White
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
Preferred Environment
Look for Cluster of small white flowers at the top of the stem with a smell of garlic
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

This species is often found in these habitats:

Habitat(s) Relationship
SH: Hedgerow Scrub Associated