Transformational Gardening

Disclaimer: Foraging can be fun, rewarding and provide health benefits. As a novice forager, I will be sharing my foraging experiences. However, in order to be safe, always consult with local foraging experts and guidebooks before beginning foraging. Children should learn to forage safely by being guided by experienced adults. Never ingest anything unless you are certain of the identification and safety of the plant. Some plant species are inedible and some are poisonous.

Garlic Mustard (Jack-by-the-Hedge) (Alliaria petiolata) (Previously: Alliaria officinalis)

Identification Food Uses Medicinal Uses Other Uses Web Page Links Online Videos References


1st year biennial plant grows as a rosette of long-stalked basal leaves that tend to be kidney-shaped or roundish with rounded and unevenly spaced & sized teeth and significant lobes curling behind the leaf stalk. 2nd year plant sprouts round flower stalk and grows 1 to 3 feet tall. Alternate, coarsely and sharp-toothed leaves. Lower leaves heart-shaped. Upper leaves more triangular with pointy tips. Long, shallowly-channeled, hairy, redish-green leaf stalks. Leaves smell like garlic when crushed. Slender white taproot with “S” shape just below base of the stem. Flowers 3/8 to 1/2 inch with four thin white petals. Blooms in April to June. Fruit: Many-seeded, narrow pod (1 to 2-1/2 inches). Habitat: Waste places and woods. Invasive: do not spread seeds. Mustard family (Brassicaceae).

Local Images:

Look Similar Plants (New Hampshire):
Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule): Opposite leaves with crinkled surface. Leaf side: 2-4 round teeth. Square stem.
Violet (Viola sp.): Leaves arise from nodes along subterranean stem. No white taproot below a rosette.
White Avens (Geum canadense): Mostly 3-parted leaves. Flowers: 5 white petals. Much shorter petioles.
Common Nipplewort (Lapsana communis): Triangular leaves, hairy stem. Seedling: few teeth, just bumps.
Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea): Regular spaced and size teeth. Opposite leaves. Square stem.

Taxonomy Classification:
KingdomPlantae – Plants
SubkingdomTracheobionta – Vascular plants
SuperdivisionSpermatophyta – Seed plants
DivisionMagnoliophyta – Flowering plants
ClassMagnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
FamilyBrassicaceae – Mustard family
GenusAlliaria Heist. ex Fabr. – alliaria
SpeciesAlliaria petiolata (M. Bieb.) Cavara & Grande – garlic mustard

Food Uses

Flowering Shoot: Pick just before the flower buds open (Thayer) or the pre-bud stalk (Kallas). Pick much more stalk and fewer/no leaves. Use bend test. Stalks can be used raw. Shoot can be boiled, steamed or put in soup. First year leaves or mature leaves are bitter, but may be used sparingly for seasoning. Flower buds can be used for seasoning. Harvest in mid-Spring. After plant flowers, lower cooked leaves may be less bitter.

Medicinal Uses

Leaves used externally as poultice on ulcers and for itching (stings/bites). Harvest before flowering and dry for later use. To treat bronchitis, rub oil on chest that has been heated with chopped roots.

Other Uses

Web Page Links

Online Videos


Native American Ethnobotany

by Daniel E. Moerman
Timber Press, c1998
ISBN: 0881924539
Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to Eastern Indian Tribes

by Charlotte Erichsen-Brown
Dover Publications, c1989
ISBN: 048625951X
3 Peterson Field Guide for Edible Wild Plants of Eastern/Central North America
by Lee Allen Peterson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (c1999)
ISBN: 039592622X

Web site created in June 2009. Some pages still under construction. The
2009 gardening exerpeinces and the 2009 foraging experiences are up-to-date. The rest of the links will be added gradually. Sorry for the inconvenience.