16 Reasons to Pull Garlic Mustard this Spring

  photo twoIN BLOOM NOW (April 20th in southwest Michigan):

  • Bloodroot – flowers may fall off with this rain
  • Cutleaf Toothwort
  • Downy Yellow Violet
  • Dutchman’s Breeches – more than I’ve ever seen. Large patches.
  • False Rue Anemone – large patches
  • Hepatica – may be the last week for this
  • Scarlet Cup Fungi
  • Spring Beauty
  • Skunk Cabbage – look close, you may see flowers. The leaves that previously got devoured by deer have made a full come-back.
  • Trillium
  • Trout Lily


  • Blue Cohosh – plants are getting tall
  • Early Meadow Rue – getting tall
  • Large-Flowered Bellwort
  • Mayapple – leaves appearing now
  • Red Elderberry

This list of wildflowers, submitted by Sue Hodapp (Master Gardener and Conservation Steward), illustrates all the inspiration behind the Garlic Mustard Challenge. Sue ties together a community of over 100 people who care for the natural area along the Kal-Haven Trail, and regularly sends out updates of what wildflowers volunteers will see in bloom if they come out to her workdays along the trail. Her lists are also an important phenological record. By going through emails from her over the years, I can see that trout lily, trillium, and spring beauty are out earlier than last year. In fact, looking at the past three years, I can see in the timing of the blooms the significant impact of the harsh winter of 2013-2014. Even after the snow melted, the whole growing season had a major set back.

Not only do these lists serve as temporary inspiration for this week’s or this year’s work, but they serve as ongoing records that help us better see trends in and understand the natural areas we’re caring for year to year, and decade to decade.

We encourage you to keep your own phrenological records as you’re out in the field working. What’s budding and blooming this week? What frogs, turtles, birds, insects, and other wildlife are out and about? Share those lists with others (or on our Facebook page). Any time you start to feel overwhelmed by all the work you have to do, reflect on those lists, yourself, and take heart. Each and every item on there is still in the woods because of your efforts; every item is a reason why you do the work you do.

There’s one more item on the “Coming Soon!” list… garlic mustard. I just took a quick walk in the woods and was surprised to see the little guys just starting to bolt (despite our little snow squall this morning). Good luck out there!

photo oneCopy (2) of Copy of photo twelve bloodrootCopy (2) of Copy of photo fifteen with frog

Photos (trout lily, spring beauty, blood root, frog) by Suzie Heiney


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