Garlic Mustard Challenge

   Because of the late spring, the Great Garlic Mustard Challenge in Johnson County has been extended through May 11.

   Volunteers are still needed to help pull the invasive plant at Iowa City and Johnson County parks, said Marcia Klingaman, one of the organizers.

  The goal is to beat the record of 1,960 pounds – almost 1 ton – of garlic mustard pulled previously.

  Volunteers can sign up to help at the city of Iowa City’s Web site:

   The site also lists the basics of garlic mustard: the plant was introduced to North America by European settlers who used it as a medicine and an edible herb. During the past two decades it has spread at an alarming rate across the eastern United States and, more recently, crossed the Mississippi into Iowa.


The site notes that garlic mustard can be found in most woodlands and woodland edges,  as well as un-mowed areas of shaded or

semi-shaded yards, parks, golf courses, and natural areas. If you live along a creek or along a ravine, there’s a very good chance that you will find garlic mustard.


Garlic mustard spreads rapidly and becomes so dense that it shades out all native species of woodland flowers, ferns, and tree seedlings. This in turn reduces habitat and food for woodland animals and leads to increased competition and pressure on native plants in those areas where they do exist. A single garlic mustard plant produces hundreds of seeds that can survive in the soil for more than 5 years. Within just a few years, garlic mustard completely dominates the woodland understory. Because most animals will not eat garlic mustard it has no natural controls.


The site also notes proper disposal methods – don’t place discarded garlic mustard in your compost or Yardy so seeds can’t further propagate.




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