Invasive garlic mustard plants found in ElyOn May 23, Norma Malinowski found a small patch of garlic mustard growing in Ely and she reported to the Ely Field Naturalists. The report led to another site in Ely that turned out to be much larger than the first.
By: Bill Tefft, For the Lake County News-Chronicle
On May 23, Norma Malinowski found a small patch of garlic mustard growing in Ely and she reported to the Ely Field Naturalists. The report led to another site in Ely that turned out to be much larger than the first.
By last Friday, the information had spread to Superior National Forest, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and St. Louis County professionals who are knowledgeable about the threat that garlic mustard presents as an invasive species and a noxious weed.
On Tuesday, City of Ely officials were informed of the discovery, and Gary Kuyava, an agricultural inspector for St. Louis County, scheduled a meeting Thursday at Vermilion Community College to discuss the importance of the discoveries.
Like other plants that find their way into new areas, garlic mustard enters landscapes that lack animals to eat and control it. In addition to the absence of control, garlic mustard inhibits the growth of fungi, herbaceous plants and tree seedlings. The result is an almost complete takeover of the forest floor.
The state has noxious weeds listed by categories according to state statutes with garlic mustard placed on the “controlled list.” By law, garlic mustard “must be controlled, meaning efforts must be made to prevent the spread, maturation and dispersal of any propagating parts, thereby reducing established populations and preventing reproduction and spread” by landowners.
Garlic mustard is a woodland biennial that grows 12 to 48 inches tall.
Rosettes of leaves develop from seed the first year before maturing to produce seeds the second year. Second year plants have alternate heart-shaped and triangular leaves on long stalks that emit a garlic odor when crushed. In early spring, small white flowers with four petals develop in clusters at the end of each stem. Flowers produce long, narrow pods containing seeds from May to July.
Students from Vermilion will assist in removing garlic mustard from the first site on North Klondike Road as a part of their Master Naturalist course. Using materials supplied by the city, they will mark the site and remove mature garlic mustard plants. The mature plants will be bagged for disposal and the further treatment and monitoring of the site will follow.
There are only two garlic mustard sites that have been previously reported in northeastern Minnesota. One location observed in 2007 was in Cook County on a portage between Gabimichigami Lake and Peter Lake. The nearest other site reported was near Brainerd at Crow Wing State Park. Several other reports in Minnesota have been from state parks, monuments or other public areas.
Bill Tefft is a member of Ely Field Naturalists.