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?

Share

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

QUESTION:

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

ANSWER:

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

How soon after stump grinding can something else be planted?
January 18, 2009 - How soon after cutting down a Mulberry and grinding up the stump can we plant a new tree in its place?
view the full question and answer

Plants for planting in gourds
March 15, 2009 - I enjoy painting dried gourds. This spring I got the idea to paint a gourd and cut holes in the side and plant some small blooming flowers. I have seen "hen and chickens" growing out of holes in the...
view the full question and answer

Will non-native poisonous oleander grow through non-native invasive bermudagrass in Ft. Worth?
February 20, 2011 - I was wondering if you knew which flowering plants would grow through grass. I have bermuda, have tried raised beds but due to uneven yard with lots of rock it would be too expensive to do properly. ...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing non-invasive shrub for privacy fence in Sugar Land TX
December 06, 2011 - I live in South Texas in Sugar Land. I was going to plant oleanders in my backyard along the fence as a privacy hedge, about 20 feet from my house. However, I was told they were a bad choice becaus...
view the full question and answer

Alternate native plants for bamboo as a privacy screen in Austin, TX.
July 26, 2011 - Can you recommend a bamboo that I can plant, acting as a privacy screen, reaching at least 10'-12'? We are looking for a bamboo that does not spread, and can take the afternoon sun. It will be pla...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center