I’m getting a bit of a late start on my winter garden, but hey, at least I’m getting something into the ground. The area where I have my garden located is absolutely covered with this plant refered to as Florida Betony (Stachy’s floridana).
Most people here in Florida find this little plant to be an invasive nuisance. I, however, feel extremely fortunate to have this plant covering a large majority of my pasture and skirting around the edges of my fences.
The stem of this betony is square distinguishing it within the Lamiaceae or mint family and it has opposite leaves with scalloped edges. Also know as hedgenettle or rattlesnake weed this Florida Betony hides a little secret below the surface at the base of it’s roots…a tuber. The wonderful thing about this tuber is that it is edible and quite yummy. While I was digging my garden I unearthed literally dozens of these tubers.
The tubers of the plant resemble a rattlesnakes tail and thus the name rattlesnake weed. They have a very fresh taste and are usually crisp and crunchy when you bite into them. To me they taste like a very mild radish.
Depending on the area that they grow in or if there has been little moisture the tubers may end up almost dehydrated which makes them inedible. You can get very creative when cooking these tubers. The tubers are quite delicious when sauteed with butter or oil, boiled, pickled, added to soup and stews or just eaten raw in salads. One website that I came across was selling the tubers for $20.00/pound which makes me feel even more fortunate that I have such an abundance of this wonderful plant.
The tuber as well as the aerial portion of the plant may have some medicinal and healing capabilities as do many of the other species of Stachy’s. If dried and powdered the roots of the Stachys affinis are said to be anodyne and the aerial parts were made into a tea for colds and pneumonia. With that said, some believe that the two plants S. floridana and S. affinis are actually the same plant.
So if you are as fortunate as me to have this wonderful plant growing in abundance in your area go out and dig some up and give it a try. They are really delicious and a wonderful addition to any meal.
If you are interested in getting a better look at the plant and seeing how they are harvested you can check out this video by Green Deane from Eattheweeds.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAudL109GOg