by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
Florida Betony (Stachys floridana), commonly called rattlesnake weed, is a Florida native plant. It’s thought to have been confined to Florida until it was moved to other Southeastern states during the 1940s or 1950s in nursery containers. It is now found from Texas to North Carolina. Its square stems are characteristic of the mint family of which it is a member.
Underground white, fleshy tubers, which resemble a rattlesnake’s rattle in shape, provide the main means of reproduction. Pinkish-purple flowers are followed by a dried fruit that splits open releasing tiny seeds, which are a lesser means of reproduction. The white tubers have been used for hundreds of years as a starchy vegetable and are sometimes boiled like peanuts.
The tubers make Florida Betony tough to control. Even when above ground foliage and stems are killed due to herbicide use, the tubers allow the regeneration of the plant repeatedly. When attempting to control this weed, it helps to be more persistent than the plant. Many people give up.
Even though it is a perennial, the above-ground portion of the plant grows during fall and spring and becomes dormant during hotter weather. You can remove the weed by digging, making sure to remove the entire root system (including the tubers). But persistence and patience is required. Herbicide control usually involves repeat applications of approved products in lawns. Glyphosate herbicides such as Roundup can be used to control Florida Betony in plant beds. But do not get the herbicide on any green portion of desirable ornamentals.
Always refer to the product’s label for specific uses, application rates and turfgrass tolerance when using any herbicide.
Of course you could just dig up the Florida Betony in your lawn/landscape and have a native plant feast.
More information on this weed is available online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep388 or by contacting the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County.