Friday, May 14, 2010

Last week I wrote about an edible plant (Chinese water spinach) that has gone from High to Low on our Oregon weed threat meter. This week I’m writing about garlic mustard, another edible plant which is headed the other direction.

Here are two excerpts from recent emails from Tim Butler, ODA Noxious Weed Program Manager:

“This Monday, May 3rd, Dan Durfey, Umatilla County Weed Supervisor and Dan Sharratt, ODA Regional Weed Specialist, confirmed a site of garlic mustard along the Umatilla River near Pendleton. They have done an initial delimitation survey and have detected other infestations. It currently looks like garlic mustard is spread over about 5,700 gross acres in the watershed and along about 20 miles of the Umatilla River.”

“This is a significant find since the next closest known infestation is in Multnomah County. This really expands the range of this weed, so central and eastern OR counties need to be on the lookout for garlic mustard particularly in riparian and forested areas. Here is a link to the ODA garlic mustard web profile that will provide additional information:”

“. . . we know about the other outlier infestation that started at the Valley of the Rogue State Park in southern Oregon. We have known about that infestation and in fact the Oregon State Weed Board has funded a grant for that project. This season additional survey has revealed that the garlic mustard has spread on down the Rogue River drainage.”

Garlic mustard spread sounds yummy, but this is a disturbing development. A decade ago, garlic mustard wasn’t even on ODA’s radar screen. I remember the first call I received from a concerned land manager in Corbett. He was having trouble finding anyone who would listen to his concerns, including me – I didn’t know what he was talking about. Since then Portland-area land managers and weed warriors have learned a great deal about garlic mustard, it can spread faster than warm butter on hot pancakes.

Garlic mustard was introduced to the eastern U.S. in 1860’s from Europe. The first Oregon record is from 1959 in Multnomah County. According to Wikipedia, leaves, flowers, and fruit are edible and are said to have a mild garlic – mustard flavor. I haven’t tried it, but watching this invasive species spread is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

Dan Hilburn

1 comment:

  1. I live on the Rogue River about 1/4 downstream from the Applegate confluence. We recently completed a Riparian restoration with planting of about 250 trees along the Rogue River. I recently spotted a rather large area containing garlic mustard. I plan to spray with a chemical called Element 3 (approved for spraying in our riparian area. If you have any other suggestions, please let me know.
    Thank you.
    Audrey Dawson