MM FL Betony 300x300 1

Latin name:  Stachys floridana – Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

Common name:  Florida betony, wild radish, rattlesnake weed, Florida hedgenettle

Usage:  The tubers of S. floridana are used  as food and have a crisp, sweet taste.  They can be eaten raw in salads and also make a stellar pickle. Harvest the tubers from  late winter until spring. If the season has been dry, the tubers may not be as abundant. Once the weather heats up the  tubers die back and become soft and brown. S. floridana is a relative of Stachys affinis, or crosnes, whose tuber is sold and utilized as a gourmet food. The leaves and flowers are used in a similar way to close European relative Stachys officinalis (Wood Betony). It is said that S. floridana has a more mild effect than S. officinalis, but both are used to for grounding the mind, relief from headaches & anxiety and to soothe the nervous system. The aerial parts can be infused in a tisane, or extracted into a tincture.

Growth/Habitat: FL betony is a perennial herb native to Florida whose range spans the Southeastern US. Like other members of the mint family, this herb has a square stem, opposite leaves with labiate flowers. S. floridana , however, is lacking in a strong aromatic scent. Leaves are  oblong with scalloped edges on a long petiole. Flowers are showy, light pink to purple with dark dots. Stachys, derived from Greek meaning “stake”, is indicative of the growth pattern of the flowers on a spike. This herb can grow to about a foot tall. Though a heavy producer of seed, this plant primarily reproduces vegetatively by rhizomes. These rhizomes terminate into tubers that  some say resemble a rattlesnake’s rattle, others say large insect larvae. This plant will grow readily in disturbed, relatively moist soil, as well as openwoods and uplands. It’s resilience and abundance have gained S. floridana a reputation as a nuisance weed. Instead of spraying toxic herbicides, dig up and munch on the tubers in your yard instead! (Always remembering to never harvest wild plants in areas that may have been sprayed with pesticide/herbicides or collect runoff from roads! )

Recipes: Use your favorite brine recipe and pickle the fresh tubers! The following recipe is recommended for overnight “refrigerator” bread & butter pickles.

  • Slice a medium onion and combine this with your tubers in a clean quart jar.
  • Combine 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ c brown sugar. 2 cups apple cider vinegar, and 3 teaspoons of mustard seeds in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
  • Pour brine over the tubers and onion, let cool, seal & label, place in the refrigerator and let sit at least 12 hours. Enjoy!

Previous post and story from Emily Ruff:

Having such a deep love of this tuber, but losing patience in the process of hunting and pecking for stray radishes throughout my yard in the spring, I did an experiment one fall. I let an entire garden bed, formerly colonized with annual vegetables, be overtaken by Florida Betony.  As the glorious patch filled in, there was nary another weed that could compete, and I found myself daydreaming of the bounty of betonies I’d be harvesting in a few short months.  Bonus to this thick colony – a few gallons of tincture of the leaves on the ready, as much daily tea as I could drink down, and, I hoped, a bumper crop of these blissful tubers.

And a bumper crop it was!  Last spring I harvested nine and a half pounds of tubers from that small garden bed.  Now, the thing about Florida Betony is that the tubers have a limited season. If the summer waxes on too long, the crisp, paper-white radishes begin to tan and turn to mush.  This lent an urgency to my harvest — but what was I ever going to do with NINE pounds at once?

No sooner had I pondered the conundrum did the answer hit me – PICKLES!

A quick Google search showed me I was not the only one who had stumbled upon this inspiration.  Gainesville’s Green Basket blogger herself had posted a delightful recipe for Bread and Butter Betony Pickles.  These are the refrigerator version of pickles, meaning no pressure cooker is needed.  I highly recommend trying her recipe for the ease of preparation, and the beautiful spice blend she suggests is super tasty, but also offers enough room for your own experimentation.  Feeling the herbal impulse myself, I substituted much of the seasoning she suggested in my first batch of pickles for the Great Kosmic Kitchen‘s Kosmic Kitchari blend, and an extra few dashes of delightfully fresh turmeric from my garden.

My nine pound harvest yielded about four quart size jars of pickles, plus three quart size jars of fresh betony radishes to keep on hand for snacks and salads – if you don’t count all the yummy radishes I ate while picking and cleaning, which could have easily numbered another quart or two on top of that.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess that I am STILL rationing about a third of a jar of pickles in the back of the fridge, enjoying a tasty treat now and again until our local tubers come back in and I can put up a new batch.

Here in Orlando, Betony radishes are just coming in, so dig your fingers in the soil over the next few weeks to find these glorious garden gems.  But don’t wait too long!  The heat of summer will wilt them quickly, so be sure to harvest while they are still fresh.  And don’t forget – avoid harvesting from areas where pesticides and herbicides are sprayed, or you’ll get a hearty dose of toxins with these snacks, too.


Deane. “Betony: Rich Root, Poor Root.” Eat The Weeds and Other Things, Too, 23 Apr. 2018,

Lantz, Peggy Sias, et al. Florida’s Edible Wild Plants: a Guide to Collecting and Cooking. Seaside Publishing, 2014.

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