Garlic Mustard is not all bad

The other day, my family was walking around our land exploring, when Mathew decided to take a short cut through some weeds. Within moments, he started to scream; his legs began to burn and itch. He had walked through a patch of stinging nettles. The stems and leaves of the plant are covered with fine hairs that irritate the skin on contact. The hairs contain acetylcholine and histamine, which create a burning sensation on contact. Some people actually use this reaction to alleviate arthritic pain. Yes, stinging nettles has anti-inflammatory properties.

This year, we had a bumper crop of garlic mustard and I simply grabbed a handful of leaves, crumpled them up and gave it to Mathew to rub on the areas that were burning. Within 2 minutes, the burning sensation was extinguished!  I have found that plants, which provide remedies for another plant, grow nearby, very convenient nonetheless.

Garlic mustard is an invasive plant that came from Europe. Unfortunately, like most exotics, there is nothing to keep them in balance. They are opportunist, like all organisms, taking over lands and pushing out the native plants.  They easily out-compete native plants by aggressively monopolizing light, moisture, nutrients, soil and space. Unfortunately, critters and insects that depend on early native plants for their foliage, pollen, nectar, fruits, seeds and roots are deprived of their essential food sources when garlic mustard replaces them. You can try pulling them out and eating them but it is very difficult to keep them under control. It is very important that when you do pull them, get all the roots because new plants will sprout from root fragments. Garlic mustard is perfectly edible in soups, salad and pesto. Susun Weed has some great ideas on eating garlic mustard

Although, garlic mustard is very invasive and out-competes our lovely native plants, I will always be grateful to it for healing my son’s burning legs so quickly.

Please share your herbal remedies and I will continue to share with you.