Basking in the glow of infamy

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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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 www.lakehuron.ca

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
Tripod

Artwork Comments

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