Rattlesnake Weed

Biological Name:

Melampodium leucanthum (Rattlesnake-Weed)

Natural Habitat:

Rattlesnake-Weed is a plant with small, white flowers and leaves that are arranged in a spiral pattern. It is often found in disturbed areas and is sometimes used in traditional medicine.


Rattlesnake-Weed is a small perennial weed with narrow pointed leaves and small white or pink flowers. It is commonly found in lawns gardens and other areas with moist well-drained soil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is rattlesnake weed poisonous?
A: Like most spurges, rattlesnake weed secretes an acrid, milky sap containing alkaloids poisonous to humans, with emetic and cathartic properties that may be misconstrued as curative.

Q: What happens if you touch pokeweed?
A: Simply touching pokeweed roots, stems, leaves or berries can provoke an allergic reaction. Very similar to poison oak or ivy. More mild cases happen when the berry juice or plant sap comes in contact with the skin. Exposure to its toxic proteins can cause an inflamed, blister-like rash.

Q: Is rattlesnake plant toxic to humans?
A: They are also non-toxic to humans and animals. Rattlesnake plants rarely bloom indoors, but they may sprout small, yellow flowers when you plant them outdoors.

Q: Is rattlesnake grass invasive?
A: This is rattlesnake grass, or Briza maxima—one of my favorite plants of the summer. Sadly this nice-looking plant is also fairly invasive (introduced from Europe, and occasionally planted as an ornamental).

Q: Is rattlesnake plant toxic to animals?
A: This plant is non-toxic to cats and dogs! We’ll be sending one of these amazing Calatheas to all our pet friendly indoor plant subscribers in March 2022.

Q: How do you get rid of rattlesnakes weed?
A: The best postemergence control of the plant is with atrazine or products that contain 2,4-D MCPP dicamba mixtures (Weed-B-Gon, Spectracide Weed Stop, Ace Lawn Weed Killer, Bayer Advanced Lawn Weed Killer, etc.).

Q: How do you get rid of rattlesnake roots?
A: You need to get plenty of herbicide on the leaves to kill the roots. Since anything that will kill your rattlesnake weed will kill everything around it. You need to be careful and precise about spraying.

Q: Will ammonia keep rattlesnakes away?
A: Repel Them Away Snakes hate the smell of ammonia and won’t come near it. Soak rags in ammonia and place them in unsealed plastic bags. Leave the bags where you usually see snakes to keep them away. You can also use vinegar to keep snakes and other pests out of your swimming pool.

Q: How do I get rid of betony in Florida?
A: Herbicides that provide good to excellent control of Florida betony are Monument (trifloxysulfuron), Manor (metsulfuron), Revolver, (foramsulfuron) and Speed-zone Southern(carfentrazone, 2,4-D Ester, mecoprop, and dicamba). Florida betony can be controlled in turfgrasses with carefully-timed herbicide applications.

Q: Why is it called rattlesnake weed?
A: This native woodland flower is relatively widespread but most common in areas where rattlesnakes occur, hence the common name.

Q: Can you eat rattlesnake weed?
A: Commonly known as Rattlesnake weed or Florida Betony, or properly known as Stachys floridana. This is one weed that has some benefits– you can eat the roots! It grows about a foot tall and has white to pink flowers with purple markings.

Q: Is white rattlesnake root a weed?
A: The underground tuber is the reason for the common name “rattlesnake weed”. It is segmented, white, and resembles the rattle of a rattlesnake. The tuber is typically ½ inch wide and 1 to 4 inches long but can grow to 8 inches or longer.

Q: What is snake weed good for?
A: Native American Ethnobotany lists a multitude of medicinal uses for snakeweed, including as a treatment for indigestion, bee stings, headaches, diarrhea, painful menstruations, colds, fevers and nosebleeds, not to mention snakebites, too.

Q: Is snake weed poisonous?
A: Snakeweed should be considered for its toxic properties and for its abortifacient effects. Death may occur but the principal effect of poisoning is abortion. The plant is most toxic during leaf formation and the early rapid growing period.

Q: Is there a plant that sounds like a rattlesnake?
A: Answer from Pat: I think you found Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) Its inflated dry seed pods in fall and winter sound a little like rattlesnakes when they blow in the wind or when a hiker brushes against them.

Q: What herbicide kills rattlesnake weed?
A: Apply a broadleaf herbicide to Florida betony that is growing outside of lawn areas. One that contains glyphosate is best. Be careful to shield other plants from the herbicide, as it will kill anything that it touches.

Q: What chemical kills Doveweed?
A: Blindside Herbicide is one of the most effective herbicides to control Doveweed. Mix this herbicide according to the rates indicated on the label and do a spot treatment application to achieve both adequate control and avoid turfgrass injury.

Q: How do I get rid of betony?
A: Products containing the active ingredient glyphosate (i.e., Roundup®, numerous other brand names), can be used to control this plant if applied as a post-directed application (spray or applied directly to Florida betony plants without contacting desirable plants).

Q: What neutralizes rattlesnake venom?
A: The only standardized specific treatment currently available for neutralizing the medically important effects of snake venom toxins is antivenom [8,9,12].

Q: When should I apply weed killer to my lawn in spring?
A: Weed & Feed products are most effective when weeds are small and actively-growing, namely spring and fall. In spring, wait to apply until you’ve mowed your lawn two times before applying to be sure it has emerged from dormancy.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.