Alliaria petiolata


Family: Brassicaceae
Latin name: Alliaria petiolata
English name: Garlic Mustard, Jack-by-the-Hedge,
Chinese name:
Ayurveda name:
Unani name:
Greek name:
Japanese name:
Korean name:

Parts used: Young leaves, shoots and seeds

Garlic mustard is a biennial herb that can grow anywhere from five to forty-six inches in height. The leaves are triangular and sharply toothed. Garlic mustard flowers are white, with four small petals, and form in clusters at the ends of stems. All parts of the plant exude a strong odor reminiscent of Garlic, hence the name.

In the U.S.A. it has been characterized as invasive. It has been naturalized in the environment and spread very quickly. It is located growing in the wild of the Northeast and the Midwest. Its huge success derives from the fact that the root exudes allelochemicals, mostly in the form of allyl isothiocyanate and benzyl isothyocyanate. These substances are able to supress the mycorrhizal fungi that most plants, even native forest trees require for normal growth. The mycorrhizal fungi of the native habitat of the plant are not affected by these substances.


It is native to Europe Central and Western Asia. Especially in the UK it is used in the area of Kent to replace Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)  mainly because tha latter is not very common in the South-Eastern England. [1]


The seeds contain oil. Erucic acid, is the main component that is characteristic of the Cruciferae family is also present in the seeds of the A. petiolata and their oil. Erucic acid has been accused of  toxicity.  Another fatty acid that may be of interest in terms of nutrition is Nervonic acid, a substance that is used as an intermediate for the synthesis of nerve cell myelin.

The content of the young leaves and basal leaves in vitamin A is higher than spinach, but it also has a higher vitamin c content than oranges. [3]



It enjoys wide usage in the UK. In Kent it has been used externally for sore throats. In Norfolk they chewed it for mouth ulcers and sore gums. While in Sommerset it has been used for feet cramps by rubbing it on the feet. [1]

Other Uses:


Animals grazing on the grass usually produce milk with a slight garlic odor. (citation needed)

Pest management:

It is an invasive plant that has attracted much attention on the issue of its  management. [2],[3]


In 17th century Britain it was recommended for flavoring salt fish. It has also been used as a green in salads especially around the Meditteranean. [5]

Safety Toxicity:


  1. Allen, David E., and Gabrielle Hatfield. Medicinal plants in folk tradition : an ethnobotany of Britain & Ireland. Portland OR: Timber Press, 2004. Print.
  4. Maršalkienė, N,  Oil content and fatty acid composition of seeds of some Lithuanian wild crucifer species, 1 Jul. 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.
  5. Sánchez, and Javier Tardío. Mediterranean wild edible plants : ethnobotany and food composition tables. New York: Springer, 2016. Print.

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Post Author: costas358

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