Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is a member of the cabbage family. Its common names include: garlic-root; garlicwort; hedge-garlic; Jack-by-the-hedge; Jack-in-the-bush; mustard-root; poor-man’s-mustard; sauce-alone.
It is in flower from April to June, and is pollinated by bees, flies, moths and butterflies. It is an important food source for the catterpillars of the orange tip butterfly. As a biennial, it produces lots of leafy growth in its first year, followed by flowers and seeds in its second.
Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked as a potherb (boil about 6 minutes and use as spinach), or as a flavouring in cooked foods having a mild garlic and mustard flavour. The leaves are also believed to strengthen the digestive system. A very tasty addition to a salad, the leaves are available very early in the year. Flowers and young seed pods can also be eaten raw.
Garlic mustard is said to be one of the most nutritious leafy greens. There are few other greens that are higher in fibre, beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin E. In addition, garlic mustard beats spinach, collards, turnips, kale, broccoli, and domesticated mustard for all nutrients and is high in omega-3 fatty acids, manganese and iron.
It can be found in damp hedgerows, edges of woods and other shady places and is growing prolifically in Tayport along the cycle path and in the “storage” area of the Community Garden.
The forest garden Garlic Mustard is at the back under the medlar tree. Maybe next year there will be many more!
- Growing and eating garlic mustard on Of Plums and Pignuts blog