Nature's Secret Larder - Jack-By-The-Hedge (Alliaria petiolata)

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Bushcraft Blog

Jack-By-The-Hedge (Alliaria petiolata)
11th April 2009

Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata

Jack-By-The-Hedge Alliaria petiolata


The three images below show the young kidney-shaped leaves


Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata

Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata

Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata

Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata


Below is an image of an older, diamond shaped leaf.

 

Jack by the hedge Alliaria petiolata

 

Jack-By-The-Hedge Alliaria petiolata  is a common plant that can be found from countryside to the most built up of areas, often poking up through splits in pavements. It has crinkly, kidney shaped green leaves when young becoming more pointy with age.  These leaves smell of garlic if lightly rubbed or crushed. As it starts life it appears to carpet the ground and as it ages it becomes quite tall and then produces small white flowers and seed pods, which all have the same garlic scent. As the plant ages further the scent gradually fades, until it is only just noticeable. Jack-by-the-hedge or Garlic Mustard as it is also known, then slowly withers away until the following year.
 
LEAVES – the leaves make ideal sandwich fillers, and if the leaves are finely chopped and mixed with a little olive oil, they make a refreshing and delicate salad dressing.
 
FLOWERS – the flower have a punchy flavour and can also be added to salads.
 
SEED PODS – for me the seed pods are best eaten as a wayside snack, and although have the same flavour as the rest of the plant, they won’t make your breath smell as it would if you had eaten a clove of true garlic!


Comments

Amy on 04/05/16

Just had this added to egg mayo in a sandwich. Lovely! I would say it's a little garlicky but also a bit peppery. Yum.

Carolyn shipley on 09/06/15

Just read in a gardening column (in The Boston Globe, Boston, MA) that Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard) has a 2-year life span. Is that true, and, if so, does the plant look different in each of the 2 years? Does it only produce seed in its second year (if it has a second year, that is).

jill on 13/05/12

I had some in a sandwich at lunchtime, along with some sorrel which I sowed last year. The garlic mustard has just re-appeared in my garden after quite a few years and I'm glad to see/eat it again : )

Albert Hitchcock on 13/04/12

Garlic mustard, very common in North Wales and NW England. Couldn't get garlic taste from leaves or top of plant.

Lindsay on 04/05/11

Thanks Kris - it is definitely jack-by-the-hedge. I can smell the garlic if I tear the leaves. You are right - very tasty!

Kris on 29/04/11

Lindsay,

Yes, it will always smell of garlic, but some stronger than others. It's important not to rub the leaves too hard otherwise the aroma turns to a grass-like smell. It may be that you have a plant called Nipplewort (Lapsana communis), it has similar leaves, but lacks the garlic aroma. It will also have tiny yellow flowers later on if its this. Jack-by-the-hedge has white flowers.

lindsay on 27/04/11

Does this plant always smell of garlic when rubbed? I am trying to identify a plant which looks very like the images shown, but has no discernable garlic smell at all.

Kris on 17/04/11

Everything unfortunately becomes a 'weed' when it grows where people would rather it not. Personally I'd rather see native plants and trees growing wild over those which are put into gardens for aesthetical purposes. Whilst this herb can produce thick growth at this time of year, it does soon die back, unlike some other plants which are much more invasive and troublesome to remove.

Bilbo on 17/04/11

Tasty it might be, but what you don't say is what an invasive weed it can be. We're renovating a large garden in Cumbria and the dratted stuff is growing like crazy with a very long tap root.

Chris Ingram on 16/04/11

I have quite a few patches of Garlic Mustard or 'Jack by the Hedge' as it affectionately known and I can only assume it
came mixed in with other flower seeds that I had sown throughout the year. Its a welcome addition and will be allowed to seed in the hope that it stays.April 2011.

Russ Cohen on 28/11/10

I came across this web page while gathering raw material for an article I'm writing on Garlic Mustard for Massachusetts Audubon Society magazine. The theme of that issue of the mag is the story behind some of our food plants. I offered to write a story about plants fromk Europe that were deliberately introduced to the U.S. homesteads for their culinary purposes and have since (exceedingly) spread into our wild landscapes. Besides Garlic Mustard, I will also be writing about Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which I hope to go out and pick some this afternoon.

-- Russ Cohen

Russ Cohen on 28/11/10

I came across this web page while gathering raw material for an article I'm writing on Garlic Mustard for Massachusetts Audubon Society magazine. The theme of that issue of the mag is the story behind some of our food plants. I offered to write a story about plants fromk Europe that were deliberately introduced to the U.S. homesteads for their culinary purposes and have since (exceedingly) spread into our wild landscapes. Besides Garlic Mustard, I will also be writing about Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which I hope to go out and pick some this afternoon.

-- Russ Cohen

Kris on 10/05/10

Hi Carole,

This species will look quite different in each stage of it's life. Right now the leaves will look different, and the flowers will be white. When young the leaves are kidney-shaped as in this example. I will add some further images for you when I get some time, to show you how it looks when in full flower. This image was taken when very young.

Carole Cuthbertson on 10/05/10

I saw this plant on Garderners World on Friday and thought it was the same thing I'd seen in a wild part of my garden - so this morning I googled it - having looked at a few sites I'm a bit concerned that your photo is not of this plant, it looks very different on all other photos.

Kris on 27/05/09

Hi Brian,

I'm very pleased you find it useful. I will be adding lots more very soon.

Thanks for your feedback.

Kris

Brian F on 27/05/09

I have been looking around your whole site and find it very informative and useful. I came across the site by pure accident, while searching for wild garlic. I will certainly be visiting again as I live in the country in Somerset.

Marilyn felix on 26/04/09

i am amazed, and can not wait to try it.


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