Garlic mustard

Garlic mustard gets its name from a distinct garlic smell the leaves have when crushed. The mature plant has single stem that can range from 1 to 4 feet in height. At the top or clusters of small, white, 4-petal flowers.

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Lewis and Clark County has a new addition to its most wanted list -- garlic mustard.

This isn’t a trendy new sandwich spread, but a rather an obnoxious invasive weed.

On Thursday, the Lewis and Clark County Commissioners voted to add the weed to the county’s invasive weeds list at the recommendation of the county weed board.

The recommendation came after 10 different infestations of garlic mustard were discovered this past summer in a southeast Helena neighborhood, Lewis and Clark County Weed coordinator Larry Hoffman told commissioners.

The weed is prolific and aggressive, often taking over and choking out native plants, he said.

Currently, garlic mustard is not on the Montana invasive weed list, but is on the federal list, Hoffman said.

Placing it on the county’s invasive weed list  will strengthen the county’s efforts at managing the plant infestations within the county’s borders, he said.

Garlic mustard is native to Europe and was first discovered in North America in New York in the 1860s, according to a fact sheet produced in June by the Montana State University Extension office. The weed has been documented in 40 states and several Canadian provinces.

In Montana, garlic mustard was first discovered in Daniels County in 2013. The local infestation was only the second occurrence reported in the state. City, state and county weed officials helped landowners eradicate the local outbreak this summer when it was discovered. The properties where it was found will be monitored for the next eight years, Hoffman said.

Garlic mustard gets its name from a distinct garlic smell the leaves have when crushed. The mature plant has single stem that can range from 1 to 4 feet in height. At the top or clusters of small, white, 4-petal flowers. The leaves have jagged or serrated edges and are heart shaped, according to the MSU Extension publication.

The plant can produce thousands of seeds and can out compete native plants by growing early in the spring and changing the soil’s biological and chemical properties, according to the fact sheet.

The time of year to really start looking for the plant is in the spring to summer, Hoffman said. Landowners have an obligation to address noxious and invasive weeds that are present on their property, he said. Landowner obligation typically extends to the middle of the alley and in boulevards.

Garlic mustard most likely arrived in wildflower seed mixes that are common in local stores, Hoffman said. He recommends checking the contents of the seed mixes versus invasive weed lists for the state and county before planting.

If landowners think they may have a noxious and invasive weed problem, the best first step is to contact the county weed office, he said. That way an official can identify the weeds and help the landowner develop a suitable remedy.

​Editor Greg Lemon can be contacted at 447-4080 or at greg.lemon@helenair.com.

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