Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Invasive Plant: Garlic Mustard - Indentification & Control

Garlic Mustard should have been on my list of the dirty dozen plants I try to keep out of my garden.  Here's a quick take on Garlic Mustard, how to identify, and importantly control it. 

Garlic Mustard Background:

Garlic Mustard Invasive - thriving in rock border
Garlic Mustard  (Alliaria petiolata) is an invasive biennial herb with a characteristic garlic/onion smell. First found in New York in 1868, it was probably brought by European settlers as a medicinal or culinary herb. These days it is in over 31 states and has been labeled an invasive plan, with no significant natural enemies in North America.  Garlic mustard grows in open woodlands, in dense shade, driveway cracks, your vegetable garden. Just about everywhere! It's a biennial herb which in the first year produces only leaves, then the following spring the produces white flowers on ugly stalks up to 3 1/2 feet tall. Each plant can produce 350-7000 seeds dispersed in late summer.  Seeds have a 20 month dormancy period and do not germinate until the second spring after ripening. In addition, it's seeds can last in the soil for at least 10 years. It doesn't need other plants to pollinate - so letting one into your yard means next year you get many more. So you can see how, if established, Garlic mustard can crowd out native and other plants.
Garlic Mustard - Young Spring Plant
Garlic Mustard seeds are not used by birds and deer / rabbits rarely bother the foliage, possibly because they're repelled by its garlic-like scent.  I'm not sure if goats - There also appears to be few native insects that feed on the foliage and other parts of this plant.
Garlic Mustard - Characteristics & How to identify:
  • Biennial herb that grows to about 3 feet tall, but can be a few inches to several feet tall 
  • Plants are single-stemmed if uncut (mowed)
  • Small, white 4-petal flowers appear in early spring and are in clusters at the top of the stem. In northern Illinois, garlic mustard is the only tall, white-flowered, four-petalled plant that blooms in May.
  • First year the plants are low-growing rosettes with round, kidney-shaped leaves, scalloped on the edges (see photo taken in April 2014)
  • Leaves without any fuzzy or hairy bits
  • Upper leaves on mature plants are smaller, more coarsely toothed and less rounded (maybe even triangular)
  • Plants often smell like garlic, especially when leaves are crushed (smell is gone by fall)
  • Garlic Mustard - Large Tap Root
  • Garlic mustard has a white slender taproot, with a characteristic crook or "s" shape at the top of the root, just below the base of the stem. 
Garlic Mustard - Control Techniques:
There are three techniques for controlling Garlic Mustard - pulling it out by hand, cutting flower heads, and chemical sprays. If you live in an area where you can burn - that should work great! With seeds that last so long - management is a commitment!  I have placed lots of wood chips into the woodlands, and very deep in places. I hope that this has helped control the Garlic Mustard - as the heat may have impacted the seeds (I pray that's the case)  If you can pull out the young plants - that works well. If you don't get the full tap root, the plant will likely return. See the photo - it's a large tap root with a bit of a kink in it, so it can be hard to get out. 

Never let them go to seed - always cut any flower heads you see in addition to pulling the plants. I place the flowers into recycle bags rather than into my mulch. 

Another option to control Garlic Mustard is to actually use it as an herb - while the typical animals in my garden, like deer and rabbit, don't eat it, people do. The young leaves are edible and nutritious – they can be added to salads or boiled and seasoned like spinach.  I hear it makes a great pesto and its roots can be substituted for horseradish
Keep this Hollyhock! 
To add to my challenge this year - keeping this invasive in check. Last year I seed-bombed part of the edge of the woodlands with a large variety of old seeds including Hollyhocks. I really like the look of flowering hollyhocks - although I'd never had much luck with them year after year. The deer seem to like them. Well, I believe they are coming up already this spring. Yeah. However, little did I realize that the leaves for the hollyhock looks very much like Garlic Mustard - take a look at the photo on the right. These two plants are so similar at this stage of growth! I'll have to look very closely when weeding.   

Happy Gardening;

Teresa Marie

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wildflowers and Native Plants of Peru - A Tourist view

Native Plants flowering at Machu Picchu, Peru
From adventure traveler to casual tourist, the Inca Trail provides an unforgettable experience. I traveled it over forty years ago and still dream of the cool, lush, humid Andean rain forest full of unusual flora and fauna. The mystery of the high city and long forgotten tales. If I was taking the trip today, I'm sure I would soak up all the bromeliads and orchids which are native to this area.  The native flower is an orchid! Peruvian native plants are often lusted after house plants :)  The abundance of unusual native plants in Peru is acute in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and nearby areas. Peru hosts more than 3,000 known orchid species, and some experts claim that this is only half of the Peruvian native species; more to be discovered!  So just think, if you take this hike you might discover an orchid that you could call your own?!

I'm sharing photos taken on a recent trip to Peru by an intrepid group of college seniors. Oh - and lest I forget, below is the crew as they are on the Inca Trail reaching Machu Picchu - how fun does this look?  Thank you Rachel for permission to post your photos.  They experienced beauty riding the train from the City of Cuzco, strolling in Aguas Calientes, meandering at Machu Picchu, hiking through the lush rain forest, babbling along gentle waterfalls, relaxing in city gardens, and resting in church yards.  
Inca Trail - Spring Break - 2014

So please enjoy the photos below. If you can identify any of the species let me know and I'll label them!

Looks like a violet!

Peruvian orchid, National Flower

The picture to the left is the orchid that is the national flower of Peru. Rachel told me the folklore of forbidden love and this flower.  Two lovers who were not allowed to be together so they sought help from the gods.  The answer to their prayers was that the man was turned into a hummingbird and the female was turned into this orchid flower.   This makes sense as this particular orchid, with it's long petals and structure, is pollinated by hummingbirds. I found two other fables regarding orchids. Both of which deal with unrequited love. One is a tale that says a young princess was turned into the orchid and her lover would cry when he saw this remembering his lost love. 

Should you decide to take this adventure - besides great flora and vistas, you may get the opportunity to enjoy a traditional and important Andea protien source - Cuy ("coo-ee") which is  guinea pig to you and I! There are even Cuy festivals.  I remember trying this and having it served in a fetal position whole on the plate. Here was Rachel's experience with this cuisine. I didn't ask if she thought it tasted like Chicken.  
Today I'm recalling pan-pipe music echoing through the mist.
Teresa Marie

Monday, April 14, 2014

Arizona Wildflowers - A tourist view

Hiking - Vermilion Cliffs, AZ
The desert can be so beautiful! This year I had the pleasure of spending time in Arizona and Utah during early spring. I just caught the beginning of the splendor of desert flowers - I'm sharing a few shots of those I encountered on the trail.  As we got off road on BLM lands and into Vermillion Cliffs, Grand Staircase Escalante, Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon - the little pops of color from mother natures blooms were unexpected and pleasurable. Hiking with the fragrance from sage and wide open spaces - Priceless!

While I'm tagging these are wild flowers or Native flowers - someone local with much more experience may say some of these are invasive. Like I say, this is a tourist view :)

Almost like an apple blossom - Arizona Wildflower

This looked like as aster to me. Arizona Wildflower

A nice touch of purple.

This very beautiful "Maiden Hair Fern" was growing into the cliff wall, on the Northside, just where the water would drain down. I thought it an appropriate time to ponder how how perfectly characteristics come together for plants to flourish - the other side would be way to hot and not enough water. Even a few inches on either side would probably not work. My companion said that the fern had been in just this spot, and never much larger for years. 

Maidenhair Fern - Arizona

I love the geology and topography of this area. While on the one hand I'd love to retire here, on the other hand I'd have to have an entirely different type of garden. That could be fun!

Singing Route 66!

Teresa Marie
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