Cumberland Times-News

May 3, 2013

Volunteers continue to remove invasive garlic mustard

New Germany State Park holding plant pull today

For the Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Volunteers for the Garlic Mustard Removal Project worked along the C&O Canal towpath recently to help eradicate the invasive plant from the national historic park.

New Germany State Park will hold a garlic mustard pull today at 1 p.m. with volunteers 8 and older to meet at the lake house. A limited supply of work gloves will be available, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. Prizes will be awarded for the most garlic mustard pulled.  

Garlic mustard was introduced into the United States in the 1860s as a salad plant. With no local predators, it became invasive on the East Coast, crowding out native plants.

The species spreads aggressively and out-competes native vegetation, such as spring beauty, wild ginger and toothwort. Garlic mustard is especially threatening to the West Virginia white butterfly, a rare native insect that depends on toothwort as a primary food source.

Seeds germinate in the spring, growing into what initially appears as an attractive ground cover. Stems grow from the rosette base, then a small white flower forms at the tip of the 8- to 20-inch stem. The flowering mustard is already in bloom along the towpath.

A biennial plant, in the second year, seed pods form, which in turn sow hundreds of seeds. It is important from an eradication point of view to remove the plant prior to the seed pods falling into the ground. Since the seeds can live in the ground for five years, eradication is considered to be a 5- to 10-year project.

Volunteers pull each individual plant up by its roots and must then take the pulled plants out for incineration.

The Allegany County Sheriff’s Office Alternative Sentencing Program also has been supportive, encouraging participation in the garlic mustard removal project by its clients.

Anyone interested in more information or to participate in the next garlic mustard pull in the Spring Gap area, contact Nasra, 301-996-6736,

 Information about the Garlic Mustard Removal Project, sponsored by the C&O Canal Association, can be found at

Volunteers can contact Jim Heins, 301-949-3518,, to start their own eradication project.

Big Run State Park will hold a garlic mustard pull on May 11 at 1 p.m.

More information is available by calling the ranger station at 301-895-5453 or emailing