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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:

26 Comments on “Florida snow – pretty or pesky?

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.”

  7. 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.

  8. 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

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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….

  13. 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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