Garlic mustard

Garlic mustard in flower (Alliaria petiolata)

Table of Contents

Garlic Mustard: Plant profile

Common names

Garlic mustard, hedge garlic, jack in the edge, jack in the bush, poor man’s mustard, hedge garlic, sauce alone

Botanical name

Alliaria petiolata

Plant Family

Brassicaceae (Cabbage)

Geographical distribution

Native throughout Europe, North Africa, western and central Asia. Introduced in North America, where it’s considered invasive. Very common throughout England, Wales, south Scotland and east Ireland.

Where to find Garlic Mustard

Shady hedgerows, woodland hedges and disturbed areas.

When to find Garlic Mustard

Leaves early to mid-spring. Seeds early to late summer.


This biennial herb, member of the cabbage family, does exactly what it says on the tin. The flavour is a pleasant mixture of mild garlic and a hint of mustard.

You’ll find it growing abundantly in the shade of hedgerows and woodland edges, along footpaths and disturbed areas all year long, though it’s best picked early to mid-spring. The plant becomes rather rank after the flowers appear and the weather gets hotter.

Culinary uses and recipes with Garlic Mustard

The leaves are best finely chopped and added sparingly to salads or eaten in cheese sandwiches. A ‘pesto’ sauce seems to be a forager’s favourite, but it also pairs very well with lamb. Add to soups and stews at the very end of cooking, otherwise they’ll make the meal taste bitter.

Every part of the plant is edible. The flowers make a pretty garnish for salads and the dried seeds work as a poor man’s mustard. The long thin taproot has a mild horseradish flavour.


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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. I want to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties.

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