Garlic mustard

Garlic Mustard


Garlic mustard

Scientific name: Alliaria petiolata
Favouring shady spots in woodlands and hedgerows, Garlic mustard can grow very tall. It has small, white flowers and, as its name suggests, smells faintly of garlic.

Species information


Height: up to 1m

Conservation status


When to see

September to April


Garlic mustard, also known as 'Jack-by-the-hedge', likes shady places, such as the edges of woods and hedgerows. It can grow to over a metre tall and has small white flowers that appear from April. It is a biennial plant, so takes two years to complete its lifecycle. It grows young leaves in its first season, which it keeps over winter, and then flowers in the spring of its second year.

How to identify

The heart-shaped leaves of Garlic mustard are smooth and hairless, and rather like those of nettles; when crushed, they smell of garlic. Its small, white flowers have four petals in the shape of a cross and grow in clusters at the ends of the stems.


Found throughout the UK, very common in England and Wales.

Did you know?

The leaves of Garlic mustard are regularly used in salads, or as a flavouring for fish or meat. Young, fresh leaves can be picked in September when they first appear, and may be harvested until the flowers bloom the following spring.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.