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 C&O Canal Association

Garlic Mustard Challenge

The Challenge Of Garlic Mustard
Along The C&O Canal

Watch an educational video about garlic mustard at:


March 2016

The invasive garlic mustard plant is advancing rapidly into the C&O Canal National Historical Park, as it is elsewhere in this region. The growing banks of garlic mustard visible along the towpath and throughout the park are endangering the ecology of native plants and animals. The canal park staff is asking for help from volunteers to meet the Garlic Mustard Challenge (GMC) and join the effort to stem the influx of the plant into the park (no pun intended).

Garlic Mustard
Garlic Mustard
The C&O Canal Association formally accepted the challenge and calls upon our members to join a long battle against the plant's spread. It will require a commitment of at least five years to be effective in eradicating this plant from any identified area. What exactly is the challenge and what should we do to meet it?

Garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata) is a classic alien, nonnative invasive plant. It is not easy to eradicate and can overwhelm the habitats upon which plants, and even animal life, native to an area depend.

What are the plant's distinguishing characteristics?

Ridding the park of garlic mustard is no easy task. In order to develop an effective action plan:

The garlic mustard must be removed each year for at least five years to produce good results. It is envisioned that over the next few years responsibility for a site or area can change hands. The most important thing is consistent removal of all second year growth each year. We encourage all of our members to get involved.

If you know of an area that has been invaded by garlic mustard, let us know the location. The park service MUST approve each site/area. If there are endangered native plants in that area, special procedures need to be put into place to protect them.

It is of utmost importance that the general public realize this is not an activity that anyone can do without training AND approval from the C&O Canal park staff. We want to advance the quality of our park, not to do damage to it through limited understanding.

To get more information about garlic mustard, check internet websites for garlic mustard. A number of sites contain information on how to control its spread. Some of the sites present a variety of garlic mustard recipes for this edible plant. Although removing garlic mustard is not difficult, perseverance in the task is the key to success.

The Association continues to conduct the Garlic Mustard Challenge (GMC) and will offer hands-on training sessions for new volunteers as the need arises. If you are interested in participating in the program please contact Jim Heins or Steve Dean at gmc@candocanal.org


     C & O Canal Association     P.O Box 366      Glen Echo, MD 20812-0366     Phone: 301-983-0825      Email: inquiries@candocanal.org