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Published on Apr 10, 2012
Garlic Mustard is an invasive species that is common in North America. Volunteers work with Krissy Faust who is a gardener and the curator of Plantations' Mundy Wildflower Garden. They met on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 to pull Garlic Mustard from the gardens.
Wikipedia says: Garlic mustard was introduced in North America as a culinary herb in the 1860s and is an invasive species in much of North America. As of 2006[update], it is listed as a noxious or restricted plant in the US states of Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia and Washington. Like most invasive plants, once it has an introduction into a new location, it persists and spreads into undisturbed plant communities. In many areas of its introduction in Eastern North America, it has become the dominant under-story species in woodland and flood plain environments, where eradication is difficult.
The insects and fungi that feed on it in its native habitat are not present in North America, increasing its seed productivity and allowing it to out-compete native plants. It is a possible threat to the West Virginia White Butterfly (Pieris virginiensis) and Mustard White Butterfly (Pieris oleracea); adult butterflies of both species lay their eggs on native Dentaria or Toothwort plants, but they often confuse garlic mustard plants with Dentaria and lay their eggs on garlic mustard, because they have similar flowers. The eggs and young butterflies cannot live on the garlic mustard, because it has chemicals that are toxic to the larvae and eggs.
Garlic Mustard produces allelochemicals which suppress mycorrhizal fungi that most plants, including native forest trees, require for optimum growth. However, allelochemicals produced by Garlic Mustard do not affect mycorrhizal fungi from Garlic Mustard's native range, indicating that this "novel weapon" in the invaded range explains Garlic Mustard's success in North America. Additionally, because white-tailed deer rarely feed on Garlic Mustard, large deer populations may help to increase its population densities by consuming competing native plants. Trampling by browsing deer encourages additional seed growth by disturbing the soil. Seeds contained in the soil can germinate up to five years after being produced. The persistence of the seed bank and suppression of mycorrhizal fungi both complicate restoration of invaded areas because long-term removal is required to deplete the seed bank and allow recovery of mycorrhizae.
Garlic mustard produces a variety of secondary compounds including flavonoids, defense proteins, glycosides, and glucosinolates that reduce its palatability to herbivores. Research published in 2007 shows that, in northeastern forests, garlic mustard rosettes increased the rate of native leaf litter decomposition, increasing nutrient availability and possibly creating conditions favorable to garlic mustard's own spread.