En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
2 ratings

Sunday - April 25, 2010

From: Myrtle Beach, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Ridding non-native centipede grass of native rattlesnake weed in Myrtle Beach SC
Answered by: Barbara Medford


How do I get rid of "rattlesnake weed" in my lawn of centipede grass in Myrtle Beach SC?


This puts us in a slightly embarrassing position. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. Your "weed," Hieracium venosum (rattlesnakeweed) is native to South Carolina, while your lawn, Ischaemum muticum, Centipede Grass, is native to China and parts of southeast Asia. Turns out both plants are considered by some to be invasive in nature. One source said that centipede grass can become a weed in many annual and perennial crops and can develop into huge thickets in drainage canals and ditches. 

However, to you the rattlesnake weed is the invasive. We have no personal experience with it (but we do with rattlesnakes!) but from the information we have it looks pretty hard to pull out, which is always our first choice in getting rid of something like that. Preventing it from blooming, so it cannot set more seed, is the first line of defense. As those blooms stand up pretty high off the ground, getting them mowed early will certainly help. 

Much as we hate to prescribe herbicides, because of environmental reasons, that may be your last resort. Centipede grass is a monocot, like all grasses. Rattlesnake weed is a dicot, also classified as a broad-leaf plant. You can buy herbicides specifically for either; obviously, you want one for a dicot, or broad-leaf plant. Read the instructions carefully, and follow them closely. Broadcast spraying could, with a gust of wind, damage some shrubs, flowering plants or trees, because they are dicots, also. 

Conclusion: Prevent the Hieracium venosum (rattlesnakeweed) from seeding if you can, pull it out of the ground when it's possible, use a dicot herbicide as a last resort. But mind the rattlesnakes!

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Hieracium venosum

Hieracium venosum

Hieracium venosum




More Non-Natives Questions

List of North American plants grown in other countries
August 17, 2008 - I am working on a childrens story and would like to let the teachers who read this book know where some of the native plants in my book grow throughout the world, or if they grow outside of the USA. p...
view the full question and answer

Non-native Concord grapes in Hilo, Hawaii
September 10, 2009 - Hi, I live in a area that does not freeze over winter, and humidity is quite high. Do you think that Concord grapes will fruit?
view the full question and answer

Care of non-native lilac
July 14, 2006 - How and when do we prune lilacs bushes ?
view the full question and answer

Planting non-native sago palm and philodendron from Pflugerville TX
September 15, 2012 - I have a small/young sago palm and philodendron I'd like to plant. Do you advise to plant them now with fall/winter approaching or wait until next spring.
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of non-native eggplant in Temple TX
October 28, 2009 - I planted egg plants in my raised bed garden for the first time this season. The plants are healthy and have produced a number of beautiful small white fruit with purple accent (spots). However, the f...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center