Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata
NL: Look-zonder-look / F: Herbe à ail

Despite of its name, garlic mustard is not from the family of garlics, but from the mustards (Brassicaceae / Cruciferae). It is a popular edible, used widely in pestos, salad dressings and as a salad ingredient too. Leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. The leaves are best eaten in early spring, as it may get bitter when the weather turns warmer. Roots can also be eaten, prepared as horseradish, having a similar taste. 
the younger the leaves, the tastier

It contains a lot of advantages from its more known family members, such as being rich in vitamins A, C, magnesium, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, flavonoids and isothiocyanates - which are thought to help protect our body against various types of cancer. 

In traditional herbalism garlic mustard is used as antiseptic (for wounds, ulcers, cuts...), vulnerary, antiasthmatic, diaphoretic and antiscorbutic. The roots can be processed into a purée or cooked in oil (over low fire in bain-marie) and applied as poultice (or oil) into the chest to help relieve bronchitis. 

Garlic mustard is considered as highly invasive, especially due to its allelochemicals, that keep other plants in the surroundings from germinating. The solution is pretty simple: harvest it and consume it. It can be preserved as pesto, jarred in sterile pots or dried for further culinary or medicinal use. 

This plant is apparently food for more than 60 species of insects and 7 types of fungus, so it surely has an important role to play in nature.

Here is a nice video with several handy tips to use garlic mustard:

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