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Garlic Mustard {Alliaria Petiolata} Monograph

Scientific Name

Alliaria Petiolata

Common Name

Garlic Mustard, Hedge Garlic, Jack-by-the-hedge, Poor Man’s Mustard



Parts Used

Leaves, Root, Seeds, Fruit, Flowers

Native To

Europe, British Isles, Asia, Africa, Scandinavia

Geographic Distribution

Native range. Naturalized in North America and considered invasive.

Young garlic-mustard leaves in the very early spring. These look quite different from the leaves of the mature plant.

Botanical Description

A biennial plant, Garlic Mustard forms a basal rosette of leaves in its first year, sending up a flowering stalk in its second spring. It typically grows to be between 12-39in / 30-100cm Leaves are heart or spade shaped with toothed margins and are

alternately arranged. Flowers are white with 4 petals and produce a fruit that is a 4-sided capsule (silique) containing shiny black seeds. Garlic Mustard is self fertile but also often assisted by pollinators.

Key Constituents

Vitamins and Minerals (A, C, E, B-complex, potassium, calcium,

magnesium, selenium, copper, iron, manganese)

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (seeds - essential nutrients)

Tannins (The seeds and leaves are rich in tannins that are drying and

toning to tissues)

Antioxidants (protects cells from damage)

Isothiocyanates - from the mustard family (anti-carcinogenic, fight


Allyl sulfides - from the garlic family (anti-carcinogenic, fight cancer)



Analgesic (pain relieving)

Nutritive Tonic

Antiseptic (kills micro-organisms)

Diaphoretic (induces sweating)

Vermifuge (removes intestinal parasites)

Anti-carcinogenic (contains cancer-fighting compounds)


Spicy, Pungent, Peppery




Garlic Mustard is mostly used as a food and flavoring plant and it is indeed very tasty and nutritious, but it also contains a number of key constituents that have been used for wellness in systems of traditional medicine. The high amounts of vitamin C in this plant have been used to treat the root cause of scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency), while other vulnerary (wound healing) compounds treat the symptoms of scurvy, such as swollen, bleeding gums. Thankfully, we don’t need to worry too much about scurvy today, since it was most notably an issue for sailors up until the end of the 18th century, who would often be at sea for many months without access to fresh fruits

and vegetables. Interestingly, my husband was once deployed on a ship where two young sailors got scurvy in 2012. The corpsman couldn't figure out what was wrong with them until he started investigating their diet and lifestyle choices and found that they were spending most of their time in their room on the ship eating Top Ramen and playing Call of Duty. They became two rare examples of scurvy in the US in modern times.

Externally, garlic mustard has been used as a poultice for scrapes, bites, stings, and bruises. The horseradish-smelling roots have been made into a chest rub, which I’m sure you can imagine would be pretty good at clearing congested sinuses with its pungent aroma! I also read of a traditional use in England as a massage oil or salve for foot cramps! I imagine the warming qualities of the plant might be nice for that

purpose, but I’m not sure I’d want my feet to smell like garlic mustard!

I recommend making pesto or adding fresh leaves and seeds to sandwiches and pastas. This is one of our favorite ways to use the abundance of Garlic Mustard that grows on our farm in the springtime. Garlic Mustard can also be made into a fresh leaf poultice for bites, stings, minor cuts, and bruises. Roots may be infused in oil and made into a salve as a pungent chest rub for congestion (they smell like horseradish)!


In general, Garlic Mustard is considered a safe, mild, and nutritious plant. Since it is considered invasive in the US, there are no issues with harvesting as much as you like!

Growth habit of the mature plant - flowering and going to seed


Edible Wild Food. (2020). Eating Garlic Mustard is a Win-win. Retrieved from https://

Harford, Robin. (2020). Garlic Mustard - A Foraging Guide to its Food, Medicine, and Other Uses. Retrieved from

Natural Medicinal Herbs. (2020). Alliaria Petiolata. Retrieved from

**The content of this monograph is for educational purposes only. The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information. Ingesting wild plants is inherently risky. Plants can easily be mistaken and every individual will vary in their physiological response to a plant that is touched or consumed. Please do not attempt self-treatment of a medical problem without consulting a qualified health practitioner.


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