Basking in the glow of infamy by Mike Oxley

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Basking in the glow of infamy by 

Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata
Guindon Park, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
May 16, 2010

Someone very kindly commented on a photo I’d taken of a Common Teasel and, while it is an unusual flower, it’s also an invasive species. This got me to thinking so I browsed through some of my other wildflower shots. It’s amazing and very worrying how many invasive species there are amongst them and how they’ve taken hold, not only in this little corner of Ontario, but all over the world.

Should you come across this plant, if you can, MAKE IT GO AWAY.

Please see below for more information.

With thanks to

Garlic mustard is considered to be one of the most invasive exotic plants in Canada. It thrives in rich, moist upland forests and wooded stream-banks. It is shade tolerant, and readily invades deciduous woodlands, hedgerows, disturbed areas such as roadsides, trail edges and gardens.

This plant is one of the most rapidly expanding invasive plants of woodland habitats in eastern Canada. Its ability to form dense monocultures affects indigenous wildflower populations. Once garlic mustard moves into an area, it steals away available light, water and space from plants like wild ginger, bloodroot, toothworts, trilliums, and other native flowers, as well as choking out forest understory growth. Without sufficient understory growth to replace the existing forest, the long term health of the forest is threatened.

 Garlic mustard is one of the threats that has placed two species of woodland plants, designated by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), at risk. Both the wood poppy (endangered), and the wood aster (threatened) are at stake. But it’s not just flowers – garlic mustard is also toxic to butterflies, which perform important functions in the ecosystem, like plant pollination. The Huron Fringe Forest (the band of forested area that runs parallel to the Lake Huron shoreline) has shown signs of invasion by garlic mustard. 

Garlic mustard is a biennial herb in the mustard family. Plants can range in height from 15 centimeters to over one meter in height.

This species is a European native that was likely deliberately introduced by early settlers because of the plant’s perceived medicinal value.

Light infestations of garlic mustard can be controlled by hand pulling. Plants should be pulled before seeds have ripened. Care must be taken that the entire root is removed and disturbance to the soil is minimal. Do not compost this plant. Seeds can remain dormant in the compost and re-germinate in your garden.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 to 300 at 300 mm, circular polariser
iso 100, spot metered, F6.3, 1/90 second

In love with Ma Nature! Always have been, always will be. Let’s keep her safe, eh?

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  • Tracy Faught
    Tracy Faughtabout 3 years ago

    Well shot…to bad all the pretty one are soo bad eh?

  • Many thanks, Tracy, and thanks, too, for the fave! Much appreciated, my friend. There are so many of them now. It’s more than a little scary.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Rocksygal52
    Rocksygal52about 3 years ago

    Beautifully capture Mike.

    Cheers Jude

  • Greatly appreciated, Jude. Many thanks!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Ray Clarke
    Ray Clarkeabout 3 years ago

  • Thanks, Ray!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppabout 3 years ago

    Wonderful capture Mike

  • Many, many thanks, Larry!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Elfriede Fulda
    Elfriede Fuldaabout 3 years ago

    Wow, interesting, I think I have seen this around here as well, it is disturbing, almost deceitful how they take over, but having said that , they are pretty :-) Great shot and lighting Mike !

  • Thanks so very much, Elfie, and many thanks for the “fave”, too! They are an attractive little flower, particularly when the seed pods wrap around the stems. I hope you haven’t seen them around your way! One of the trails at Guindon Park is infested with them and there’s not much else there now. Scary.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1about 3 years ago

    Marvelous image, Mike – there so many non indiginous plants here Did you know dandelions were brought to North America because people originally used them in borders in their gardens?

  • Thanks so very much, Shulie. Many of the invasive plants have been imported by folks innocently or with good intentions and we’re now paying for it. At least dandelions have some use – salad greens, herbal medicines and, of course, wine!!

    – Mike Oxley

  • kalaryder
    kalaryderabout 3 years ago

    It is a beautiful little plant, although invasive.

  • Many thanks, Kala. They are a pretty little flower, but we’re paying the price now for letting them loose.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Leslie van de Ligt
    Leslie van de ...about 3 years ago

    Oh so lovely Mike and such a great write as well. Finally back from feeling off and then the extended Xmas break. Happy New Year my Friend. :>)) Leslie

  • Greatly appreciated, Leslie, and many thanks for the “fave”, too. Glad to hear you’re feeling better. All the best to you and yours in the New Year, too, my friend! Cheers!

    – Mike Oxley

  • NewfieKeith
    NewfieKeithabout 3 years ago

    Wow great info..Nice capture!!

  • Many thanks, Keith! I greatly appreciate your very kind words. It is a little worrying to see so much land being taken over by these “invaders”.

    – Mike Oxley

  • Malcolm Chant
    Malcolm Chantabout 3 years ago

    A great shot and find Mike, and a very interesting write up

  • Thanks so very much, Malcolm. I was rather surprised when I read about how much harm these little flowers can do to their surrounds. Quite alarming!

    – Mike Oxley

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