What is it?
If you look closely at your yard, there’s a good chance you’ll find a plant that is both a native species and a weed. Well, there are more than a few plants that may fit that description. If you happen to investigate further however, you may find root tubers that resemble egg casings or even a rattlesnake’s rattle. If so, you’ve stumbled upon Florida Betony.
Stachys floridana is a perennial broadleaf. It is commonly referred to as rattlesnake weed, due to it’s fleshy white segmented underground tubers. The plant has an erect stem with leaves that are opposite, shovel shaped and toothed. The plant structure is very similar to mint. Flowers will emerge that are pinkish-purple in color. Flowers will also produce fruit, consisting of four nutlets. However, reproduction primarily occurs through root tuber development. Florida Betony was once confined to the state of Florida, until the mid-1900’s nursery trade dispersed the plant throughout the southeast. It can now be found as far west as Texas and as far north as North Carolina.
This time of year, is especially when Florida Betony thrives. Fall and spring is the prime growing period. The above ground plant structure will struggle in hot, summer temperatures. The plant will often disappear, only to reemerge in the fall. As a lawn weed, tuber development is the key to controlling this plant. Applying herbicide to the leaves and stalk may seem at first to have conquered the weed. But, in most cases the tuber will simply regenerate. Glyphosate herbicide (trade name Roundup) can be used effectively for control in ornamental plant beds. Be careful when spraying herbicides around trees, shrubs and other desirable plants. Any contact will cause negative effects. There are turfgrass options for controlling Florida Betony. For more information and options, please contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200 or see the supporting information links below. Always refer to the product’s label for specific uses, precautions and application rates when using any herbicide.
Another solution or “organic” control option would be to dig up the tubers for a treat. As stated earlier, the tubers are edible and are rich in sugars and starches. They can be eaten raw or cooked and some use them in salads and stir fry.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the following the UF/IFAS EDIS publication, “Florida Betony Biology and Management in Turf” by J. Bryan Unruh, Ramon G. Leon, and Darcy E. P. Telenko: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP38800.pdf
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.