Thers are a lot of these plants in our local woods. Garlic Mustard Alliaria petiolata was brought to the United States in as a culinary herb in the 1860’s. Since that time it has escaped from the garden to grow wild in much of the U.S.A. In Ohio it has become very invasive and is choking out the native wildflowers that can not compete with its vigor.
Unlike most other invasive plants, once it has an introduction into a new location, it persists and spreads into undisturbed plant communities. In many areas of its introduction in Eastern North America, it has become the dominant under-story species in woodland and flood plain environments, where eradication is difficult. The insects and fungi that feed on it in its native habitat are not present in North America, increasing its seed productivity and allowing it to out-compete native plants.
In Europe, where it is native, there are many insects and fungi that eat, attack and live on this plant. Therefore it does not become invasive. A number of states in the U.S. have listed it as a noxious or restricted plant.
The leaves, flowers and fruit are edible as food for humans, and are best when young. They taste like a combination of both garlic and mustard, and are used in salads and pesto. Many find the leaves very acrid. When I have tasted them they were rather mild. They were once used as medicine.
I may update this again later – but that’s it for now.