Garlic Mustard Control Project

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) has greatly proliferated in many parts of Massachusetts over the last 10 to 15 years. In response to this, Mass Audubon has initiated efforts to eradicate or prevent the spread of this non-native invasive biennial herb at a number of its wildlife sanctuaries. 

Garlic mustard produces large numbers of small seeds that are spread by wind, water, wildlife, and humans. Often growing in moist soils, the seeds adhere to the shoes of pedestrians and the tires of vehicles that transport them to new areas where new colonies become established.

Project Locations

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary (Natick), Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary (Lincoln), Endicott Wildlife Sanctuary (Wenham), Habitat Education Center (Belmont), Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield) Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (Marblehead), and the Museum of American Bird Art (Canton).

Project Description

Several methods have been used to control garlic mustard at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. For smaller colonies, hand pulling has been effective.

At Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, large numbers of volunteers have helped to reduce the presence and spread of garlic mustard by hand pulling and bagging garlic mustard in plastic bags for composting. Hand pulling has also been used for small colonies at the entrances to Marblehead Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.

At other locations, a combination of hand pulling and the foliar application of herbicides have been successful. In all cases, control measures must be repeated annually for a number of years since garlic mustard seeds can remain viable in the soil for at least seven years.