Florida Betony Weed, A.K.A. Rattlesnake Weed

Larry Williams
Horticulture Extension Faculty
Okaloosa County
lwilliams@co.okaloosa.fl.us

Florida betony weed, 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.

Florida betony foliage & flowers Photo Credits: UF/IFAS Extension

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.

Florida betony weed tubers Photo Credits: UF/IFAS Extension

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 aboveground 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 atrazine or 2,4-D products in centipede, St. Augustine and zoysia lawns. But do not use atrazine on bermuda or bahia 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.