Volunteers were busy in Alger County this afternoon removing an invasive plant species from the soil.
The Alger Conservation District was pulling garlic mustard plants near M-94 in Au Train. Garlic mustard is native to Europe, smells like garlic and features white flowers. U.P. native insects and animals aren’t familiar with it, so they don’t eat it. It also displaces native woodland plants.
“It starts greening up first thing in the spring, as soon as the snow goes, so it’s photosynthesizing, making food, growing before anything else is out,” Alger Conservation District executive director Teri Grout said. “For another thing, it puts out a lot of seeds. One little plant can put out thousands and thousands of seeds, and they can stay alive in the soil for years.”
Garlic mustard is widely prevalent in northern Wisconsin and the Lower Peninsula. The volunteers will be in the area from 11 to 3 every Thursday removing the garlic mustard until it’s gone.
“We’ve been picking on some of these areas for three to four years now, and we are seeing — even though it looks hopeless when you first see the plot — after three and four years, we’re seeing that there is a decrease in garlic mustard,” Grout said. “A lot of times there’s a lot of seeds in the seed bank, and they’ll keep sprouting for years, so you can’t just let it go after one or two years.”
The garlic mustard pull is part of the RRIP-IT-UP program, the Rapid Response Invasive Plant Intervention Team of the U.P. If you see a garlic mustard infestation, call your local conservation district.