Garlic Mustard taking over the metro

1:37 PM, May 9, 2012   |    comments
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MINNETONKA, Minn. - It sounds delicious but cities around the metro and residents are fighting against it. Garlic Mustard is just one of many invasive plants that is taking over parts of the Twin Cities.

You can recognize it by its heart shaped or triangular leaves that have coarsely toothed edges that omit a garlic odor when crushed. The small white flowers each have four petals. One plant can produce over 100 seeds.

Invasive plants like the Garlic Mustard spread rapidly and choke out the native plants of prairies and woodlands. The diverse varieties of native plants are responsible for supporting the wildlife within the prairies and woodlands as well. Without that diversity, you lose the wildlife in addition to wild flowers, ferns, trees and more.

Many cities, including Minnetonka, are urging its residents to help out by manually destroying the plants and they say now is the time to do so.

"The best time to pull Garlic Mustard is May and June is because the plant has not dispersed any seeds yet," Said Janet Van Sloun, a Natural Resource Specialist with the City of Minnetonka. "These little green seed pods will continue to ripen and thicken. In July, those seeds will be ripe, the pods will break open, and the seeds will disperse."

With the ground so wet at the moment, pulling is a bit easier as well. Van Sloun says to grab the plant by the root and pull, making sure to get all of the one thick root that travels underground in an "s" shape. Seeds can ripen even after the plant is pulled so be sure to bag the waste and put it in the garbage.

If you pick Garlic Mustard, Van Sloun says you can eat it and it's very nutritious! An internet search will provide plenty of recipes for dishes like Garlic Mustard pesto.

But Minnetonka isn't the only city and garlic mustard isn't the only plant. Cities across the metro are also battling buckthorn, a woody shrub with dark glossy leaves; burdock, which resembles rhubarb; and motherwort, which looks a little like a spiky maple leaf.

Many cities are asking volunteers to help them remove these invaders from their parks. For more information on Minnetonka's program, including an in-depth presentation on Garlic Mustard, visit the city's website.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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