Hedge Garlic - Alliaria petiolata

Hedge Garlic - Alliaria petiolata

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Jack-by-the-Hedge, Garlic Mustard, Poor Man’s Mustard, Garlic Root, Penny Hedge, Sauce Alone, Mustard Root, Garlic Wort, Jack-in-the-Bush

Scientific name meaning: Alliaria is Latin in origin and means "resembling an allium". This is in reference to Hedge-garlic's garlic-like smell. Petiolata means having a long leaf stalk, such as this plant's basal leaves

Hedge Garlic habitat

Habitat

Found in dappled shade with moisture. It can be found on woodland edges, and beside fences and hedgerows, where it has some support from winds. It is a native of Europe, Africa and Asia, and listed as an invasive species in North America

Hedge Garlic structure

Overall structure

Hedge garlic is a biennial plant, meaning it has a two-year growth cycle.

During year one, it forms a basal rosette of leaves.

In year two, it puts up a flower stalk and reaches up to 120cm in height. Its overall shape is long and pyramidal. Usually found in large groups 

Hedge Garlic leaves

Leaves

In the first year, the leaves are kidney-shaped with toothed edges (right). In the second year, they become more heart-shaped, but remain toothed (left). The leaves are glossy and have a wrinkled appearance to them due to deep vein channels. They smell of garlic when crushed

Hedge Garlic Flower

Flowers

The white flowers appear in clusters at the top of the plant in springtime. The plants flowers in its second year of growth. Hedge Garlic is a brassica, so the individual flowers are cruciform - four petals in the shape of a cross

Hedge Garlic Seeds

Seeds

The seed pods are long, thin and green. They curve upwards and contain small seeds. Ads the pods age, they begin to brown and dry out. The seeds also turn brown with age

Honesty

Possible lookalikes

Hedge Garlic could easily be confused with Honesty (Lunaria annua). Honesty is also edible and can have purple or white flowers, but they are over 10 times larger than those of Hedge Garlic. Honesty also has large disc-shaped seed pods and lacks the garlic scent of Hedge Garlic

Use as a food The leaves and flowers of Hedge Garlic can be used raw in salads, or lightly steamed. Some people get a strong unpleasant taste after a few seconds of chewing the leaves. However, a dressing usually cuts through any overpowering flavour.

The flowers can be sprinkled through a salad for added visual interest and mild flavouring.

After Hedge Garlic has flowered, the seeds can be used as a mustard-flavoured spice or seasoning. They can also be used to make a rustic wholegrain mustard

Hazards People who suffer from hypothyroidism are advised against excessive consumption of members of the brassica family. Hedge Garlic is a brassica

Use in herbal medicine Hedge Garlic contains mustard oil glycosides and has been used in the treatment of asthma, eczema, bronchitis, and skin irritation.

It has also bee used to treat scurvy and parasitic infestations, to heal wounds, and induce sweating. Chewing the leaves is believed to relieve mouth ulcers, while a powder made from the seeds has been used to encourage sneezing.

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Importance to other species Hedge Garlic, or Jack-by-the-Hedge, is one of the main food sources for the caterpillars of the Orange-Tip Butterfly

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!