Master Gardener Volunteer Program team member
Oh, wedelia. Why do you?
Wedelia is a beautiful plant, with a thick mat of green leaves and pretty, bright-yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom year-round. It’s an eye-catcher that can brighten just about any landscape.
Unfortunately, it’s also our latest example of an invasive plant plaguing Florida.
Brought to Florida roughly a century ago, wedelia was introduced here as a quick-growth ground cover, imported from tropical Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. But those attributes helped the plant—also known as creeping oxeye, creeping daisy, Singapore daisy, rabbit’s paw, yellow dots and more—to spread beyond the landscapes where it was introduced. It quickly crowded out native and other plant species in agricultural areas, along roadsides and trails, stream banks, beaches and mangrove borders, waste places and disturbed sites.
Wedelia leaves are opposite, fleshy, 2-4 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, with irregularly toothed margins. Stems are green-to-red, rounded, and hairy. Flowers grow singly, up to 1.5 inches in diameter, with numerous, tiny, yellow florets in the center of 8-13 yellow petal-like florets, which have toothed tips on the periphery.
Seed production in wedelia is low, with the majority of spreading happening as nodes on the stems touch ground and take root.
While Wedelia flourishes in sunny areas with well-drained though moist soil, it grows in a wide range of conditions. And, the plant is drought- and frost-resistant.
Wedelia is listed as invasive (no uses) by the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas. It also is listed as a Category II invasive by the Florida Invasive Species Council (FISC)—formerly the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC)—which means that it has increased in abundance and frequency, but not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent that Category I invasives have.
It should not be planted. Rather, landscapers, homeowners, gardeners and others should consider removing existing plants and replacing them with native ground covers.
Unfortunately, mowing or slashing wedelia offers little to no control. Instead, this approach can result in the regrowth of new plants. Instead, mature plants should be uprooted, with an herbicide (labeled to kill wedelia) applied on any regrowth. Young seedlings and small plants can be hand-pulled, however, taking care to include the plant roots and rhizomes.
Wedelia has no known biological control agents.
Apply a 2% solution of herbicide (labeled to kill wedelia) to small patches, and a 5% solution to large, dense areas. Follow-up treatments are important.
Like the looks (and characteristics) of wedelia, but don’t want to invite invasives? Thankfully, there are a number of Florida-native plants to substitute for this interloper.
At first glance, the native beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis subspecies vestitus) looks very similar to wedelia. But, closer inspection reveals that the beach sunflower’s leaves are alternately arranged, compared to the opposite arrangement in wedelia. And, the sunflower’s center florets are dark-purple ranging to brown, where wedelia’s are yellow.
The beach sunflower can tolerate salt and wind, and does best in full sun with dry, well-drained sandy soils. It can spread quickly by self-seeding. Its bright flowers attract pollinators, and its seeds are eaten by birds. Finally, its dense growth mat offers protective habitat for many small animals.
This brightly-colored wildflower, also known as firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella), blooms year-round in Central Florida and attracts a variety of pollinators. Though no longer considered native, itt occurs naturally in dry savannahs, coastal dunes and other dry, open areas.
Also known as sunshine mimosa, this mat-forming wildflower (Mimosa strigillosa) is a perennial with showy, pink “powderpuff” blooms that appear in spring and summer. It is pollinated by bees, and is the host plant for the little sulphur butterfly (Eurema lisa). It occurs naturally in disturbed open areas and along roadsides.
Turkey tangle (Phyla nodiflora) is an evergreen perennial wildflower that grows low, “creeping” to form dense mats of green foliage with small white-and-purple flowers, which can be showy when planted in mass. It occurs naturally in hammocks, beaches, lawns and along roadsides.
This plant, also known as frogfruit, acts as the host plant for the larvae of white peacock butterfly (Anartia jatrophae), common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia), and phaon crescent (Phyciodes phaon). It also is an important nectar source for many other butterflies and pollinators.
- Alternatives to Invasive Plants Commonly Found in Central Florida Landscapes (Publication #ENH1207)
About the Author
Rita Dadzis is a UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, a graduating member of the Class of 2016.