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Florida snow – pretty or pesky?

 

What is that white weed-flower that blankets your lawn like snow during the cool season? That’s Florida pusley, also known as Florida snow or Mexican clover.

Depending on whom you ask, it is either considered pretty, with its dainty flowers, or pesky, a troublesome weed in many Florida lawns.

Blowing in the Wind?

Part of what makes Florida pusley so persistent, is the same feature many find attractive—its proliferation of flowers. These flowers, however, very quickly produce seeds; and, in a matter of just a few weeks, what was once only a small patch of delicate flowers in your lawn has taken over half the yard!

One interesting note about Florida pusley (Richardia scabra) is that there are two other closely related species. One has larger blooms which can be pink, blue, or violet, and is R. grandiflora, aka, largeflower pusley. The other, R. brasiliensis, has thicker roots. Both species reproduce by both seeds and stem/root sections.

Regardless of the species, however, weed control for Richardia requires some amount of patience and persistence. Control recommendations include:

  • frequent mowing to interrupt the life cycle and prevent flowering and seed-set;
  • use of pre-emergent herbicides to inhibit seed germination; and
  • careful selection of broadleaf post-emergent herbicides.
Bottom line

Prevention is always better than a cure. Following research-based turf management practices helps lawns to maintain vigorous growth which deters weed infestations.

Learn more:

47 Comments on “Florida snow – pretty or pesky?

  1. This weed is my chickens’ favorite weed to eat. They seem to instinctively know what is good for them which makes me believe it is probably high in calcium.

  2. Saw a baby gopher tortoise munching on pulsey today. Would love to be able to post the photo I took. A sweet little plant that bees and gopher tortoise like is a keeper to me!

    • I have at least ten gopher tortoises on my property that seem to subsist almost exclusively on this stuff so I won’t get rid of it

  3. i am taking the lawn out of my yard and need ground cover. this, along with mint and clover are great because i will never have to mow it, and it rakes out if i need to grow something else

  4. It grows and thrives on its own. It’s pretty to look at. I’ve decided to let it keep going and completely take over my lawn. I can’t afford to replace my lawn AGAIN, and pusley is free.

  5. I like the Richardia Grandiflora- the flowers are pretty and it is a nectar plant for bees and butterflies and we need to help out both. I am a pollinator gardener and find this is fast growing ground cover. If it gets out of control, I just pull it out of spots. I would never use chemical pesticides on it because then you kill the pollinators. I think as we rethink wildlife sustainable gardening we will find that weeds are really wildflowers.

    • where do i find this? if i dig it up off the side of the road and plant it – will it adapt and grow?

      • Hello Lisa,
        The plant has an annual lifecycle meaning that the plants currently in bloom will die once they set and disperse seeds, so digging them up to replant is hit or miss. You can try to harvest some of the current season’s plants, keeping as much of the root system intact as possible, maintain the plants in a conducive growing environment long enough for them to set seeds, harvest the seeds, then try to germinate them next March. I’ve enclosed a link to an article on germinating these seeds published by the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA).

      • RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!
        This plant will take over COMPLETELY any area you plant it. Luckily, it is gorgeous to look at, but it now comprises about 95% of my lawn. You can see blades of grass popping up in between, but it is all pretty little weeds now. The advantage of it is that it grows out, not up. So I don’t have to mow my lawn as often as I used to.

  6. All animals love this! Deer and bunnies, BUT also gophers! My yard is the only one with gophers and we have figured out why. Now the weed must go because of all the dirt mounds everywhere. Btw- this plant is edible even for humans.

    • Edible? How interesting? I don’t suppose it’s one of the new super foods, is it? At least it’s a green vegetable! Do you cook it or eat it raw, or both?
      I would guess you want to eat it before it flowers, before it gets too mature and – tough and bitter(?).

  7. I have this all over my lawn and it has pretty much taken over the turf. Personally I think it is incredibly beautiful and the more I observe it, I notice it attracts a huge amount of insects for its nectar; from honey bees to butterflies, especially the White Peacock butterfly. It would be really important to consider these when decided if or what to use to control it.

    • I concur!! Animals feed on the leaves too! I love it!

    • Sure, my back yard. Free. But you have to pull the whole plant up.
      Seriously, you do not want this plant. It will kill all grass and gets every where. I once thought it was pretty to until it took over every flower bed.

      • You are absolutely right! It is taking over and killing my St. Augustine lawn that I love. It is wrapping all around it and killing it. I go around every few days trying to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it. It’s a big job since everyone around me lets it go in their yards. I hate these little purple flowers because of the destruction it does to my lawn. I know that it’s good for the bees but I have plenty of flowers for the bees. It seems like nothing kills it without killing everything in your yard. So, I will keep mowing it short and pulling it up by the roots.

        • I love Florida Snow in my lawn and the heck with St Augustine grass. I grew up in a part of the US where a plant like St, Augustine grass would be considered a weed due to way it grows. Florida Snow is low maintenence and feeds beautiful butterflies, bees, and more. I’m glad it killed most of the St. Augustine grass in my lawn.

        • I read today that the only way your St Augustine can compete is letting it grow tall 3 plus inches. The weeds like it short grass long. I’m with you on helping the lawn out by pulling the bigger sections

    • I would love to know too, since I’m trying to get rid of my awful grass

    • This “flower” will wipe out all grass and spread rapidly. The roots are like ginseng and hard to remove all the way. Roundup works! Atrazine slows growth. While staying locked down till this Covid-19 is done, picking this weed will give you hours-days-weeks of sore finger fun.

  8. When I first noticed this weed in my,neighbor’s yard I was amused. It made for a pretty effect and I discovered that you can actually sit and watch the,flowers spring open in the morning. But, now all I hear from one other neighbor is his constant complaint that it is taking over all the lawns. Good to know there are effective treatments to be rid of it, temporarily, at any rate.

  9. I agree! i wish I could fine somewhere to buy it to fill my lawn in entirely;)

    • Beth, come to Crawfordville Fl. You can have all you want from my back yard. Yes its pretty, but the nuisance of it far out weights the novelty of it.

    • And as soon as you step on your neighbor’s lawn, his yard is infected with this scourge. You do not want this weed. Florida should quarantine people with this weed in their yard instead of someone that may or may not have the Boogy-Woogy wuhan flu.

      • I use dawn soap, Eason salts and vinegar. It kills and the grass will grow over but you have to keep at it. That is rosin salts

  10. Regarding the benefits, i do not know either but my 4 English MaStIfFs love the stuff. They are known to have sensitive stomachs so maybe they’re seeking it out for that. Will do further research.

    Janet

    • Hi, Janet. We don’t have any research on the effects, if any, of “Florida snow” on domestic animals. As with any situation like this, though, we’d recommend watching your pets closely if they’re eating any plant.

  11. I have to say, I love this Mexican clover as a lawn alternative. Saves on water, looks great, and helps to sustain bee populations!

  12. Ive read a small article that this plant can help with acid re-flux. Now of course I have been researching how, dosages and how to ingest. Unfortunately I can not seem to find any valuable or credible information on that. Can you offer some guidance or maybe a link that can assist me?

    Thank you

    • “Thank you for your comment. However, we aren’t positioned to provide you with an answer. Perhaps you could contact your physician or a naturopathic medical practitioner for additional information.”

  13. weed killer called atrazine will kill it off witout killing your st Augustine grass.

    note: if you have more weed than grass, when you kill the weed, it will look like you killed the grass too… it will take 6-12 months for your grass to grow back (spread)in that area.

  14. Wild killer weed .. it is super pretty with all the flowers .. but spreads like crazy and convers the lawn from the top until it kills it .. now I have patches of dead lawn all over … what is the best way to get rid of it

  15. Is there a weed killer to kill this weed. Too many bees and killing lawn.
    What brand

  16. Is this a native plant? I noticed at St. Sebastian State Park that this plant is COVERED in native pollinators, but I don’t want to put it on my property if it’s not native. Thanks for any guidance!

      • Yes, but I am wondering if this plant has just been “spreading” over time. I’ve lived in SW FL
        70 years and this is really my first encounter with FL. Snow!

  17. I manage a property that focuses on deer management. I have noticed on the edges of my fields that have either drown or are hit hard by the heat and drought conditions, that Florida Pusley grows and looks good, also the deer have heavily browsed on it as well. I haven’t been able to find any data that discusses the health benefits of Pusley for deer. Is there any information/website or a person to speak to that i can follow up with.

    • Hi, Richard. We’ve consulted with our commercial horticulture agent, Dr. Marguerite Beckford, who noted there isn’t much information available, likely because no one typically has to deliberately plant pusley to get it to grow. We have, though, identified a couple of University of Florida publications that might help you. The first is titled “Food Plots for Whitetail Deer,” and can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw262. The second is an archived publication titled “Managing Native Vegetation for Wildlife,” which can be found at http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/IR/00/00/18/31/00001/FR24100.pdf. Note that archived publications might contain information (typically in tables or lists) in need of updates.

      Hope that helps!

  18. I love this delicate little plant. I have them all over my yard, and I also have lots of bees and butterflies. It’s beautiful, requires no care, and seems to be drought and salt tolerant, it’s too bad most people don’t see it that way, doesn’t require watering either, so it saves on valuable resources. The iguanas don’t seem to like it either- a real plus. Maybe we should all learn to live with this little native species….

  19. Hi,

    I noticed the “Florida pusley weed biology” link to the pdf does not work. Is there anyway this can be fixed.

    • Hi, Ben. Thanks for letting us know about the link. UF/IFAS Extension offices recently migrated web content to a new server, and links pointing to the old site might not have been updated. We now have replaced the outdated link with one that points to an active page at EDIS. Best, UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County.

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