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Volunteers sought to stop garlic mustard's advance

The invasive plant pushes out native plants and uses chemicals to inhibit the growth of other plants.

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Flowering garlic mustard
Contributed / Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area
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SUPERIOR — An invader has crept into Superior’s Central Park, and volunteers are needed to clear it out.

Garlic mustard is an invasive species that spreads rapidly, pushing native foliage out and producing chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.

The Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area (NCWMA) is seeking volunteers to help hand-pull garlic mustard in Superior’s Central Park from 10 a.m. to noon on May 20. Participants should meet at the parking lot along Laurel Avenue.

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Scott Caven, aquatic invasive species coordinator for Ashland County, stands in a garlic mustard infestation.
Contributed / Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area

Volunteers can work as long as they would like, but should arrive at the beginning of the event. They should wear hiking or mud boots, a hat, long pants and a long sleeve-shirt. Items to bring include insect repellent and water. Those attending all day should bring their own lunch and snacks.

Garlic mustard has a two-year life cycle. The first year, it comes up as a carpet of ground-hugging kidney-shaped leaves. The second year, the plants can grow up to 4 feet tall with four-petaled white flowers and narrow seed pods jutting from the stem. Each plant produces hundreds of seeds that are viable for up to seven years.


Hand-pulling the plants in May and early June is key to halting the invader’s advance and preventing seeds from being dispersed. The NCWMA, a group of state and federal agencies, municipalities, tribes, nonprofits, community organizations and individuals who have come together to combat invasive species in Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties in northern Wisconsin, has a number of additional efforts targeting garlic mustard slated for this spring. They include the following:

  • May 16-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. volunteers will hand-pull the invasive plant along the Bad River. Northland College classes will take part May 16. To get to the site, take Wisconsin Highway 13, turn east onto Highway 169 towards Copper Falls State Park. After a half mile, turn south onto Butler Road immediately east of the bridge over the Bad River. Park near the intersection with Highway 169.
  • May 24-25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. volunteers are needed to hand-pull garlic mustard on the Montreal River in Hurley. Meet in the parking area north of Highway 2 and just west (the Wisconsin side) of the Montreal River.
  • June 2 from 10 a.m. to noon the NCWMA is teaming up with the Cable Natural History Museum to pull the invasive species.
  • June 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. NCWMA members will be hand-pulling the invasive plant on private property along Kimball Bay in Superior.

Anyone who finds garlic mustard in their yard is encouraged to hand-pull it in the spring before it goes to seed, dispose of plants in the trash and report it to the NCWMA. The group can help with treatments, and they appreciate knowing areas where the invasive plants are spreading. Other plant species should not be transplanted from an infested area, because seeds could be in the soil. People should always clean the soles of their shoes off after hiking from a trail, as well, to prevent the spread of garlic mustard seeds.
Contact Ramona Shackleford at 715-373-6167 or , or visit the NCWMA website for more information, details on hand-pulling events or to report garlic mustard sightings.

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Garlic mustard basal leaves.
Contributed / Northwoods Cooperative Weed Management Area
Anthony Bukoski, a professor emeritus of English at UWS, has earned two awards for "The Blondes of Wisconsin."

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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