Skip to main content
dollarweed

Questions From The Plant Clinic: Dollarweed

Dollarweed is a common issue in Florida lawns and gardens. This week Master Gardener and Master Naturalist Don Philpott  (dp@mediawiseus.com) discusses what you can do to get rid of dollarweed, and why you might consider keeping it! Read Don’s other articles [here].

When the weeds talk to us we should listen
dollarweed in bloom

Dollarweed in bloom.

There is no such thing as a weed, it is simply a plant growing where we don’t want it. The appearance of many of these plants, however, can be nature’s way of trying to tell us something.

Take Dollarweed (a member of the Apiaceae family, Hydrocotyle genus*) for instance, one of the most common ‘weeds’ found in lawns in Central Florida. Also known as pennywort (wort is an old English word for plant), dollarweed gets its name from its round leaves about the size of a dollar coin.

If you have dollarweed take heed – because its presence is likely a sign that you are doing something wrong in the garden. You may be over watering so check your irrigation and make sure the areas where the dollarweed is growing are not getting too much water. Adjust your sprinkler heads if necessary or reduce the amount of time that you irrigate. Dollarweed thrives in moist growing conditions so there may be a drainage problem. Check for puddling and see how damp the soil is. Cutting the grass too short can also allow dollarweed to take a hold as can over fertilizing.

An edible solution to dollarweed

The good news is that if you do have dollarweed it is edible. Provided no chemicals have been applied to your lawn, you can eat your way out of the problem. Wash if necessary and served with salads – the leaves are less bitter than the stems. Powdered dollarweed is sold in health food stores for sprinkling on food or used for an herbal tea. It can even be fermented to make a ‘kraut’ or ‘kimchee’.

One reason why the edible solution is a good one is that it is also good for the environment. There are 40.5 million acres of lawn in the U.S. – four times the acreage under corn – and 80% of all homes have grass lawns. Over 50% of water used in the U.S. goes towards irrigation, about 30% on watering of lawns.

The average homeowner will spend 150 hours a year maintaining their lawn. Homeowners also spend around 3 billion hours annually mowing lawns, according to Bloomberg. Each year 250,000 people – 17,000 of them children – are injured using lawn mowers – three times the number injured by firearms, said the U.S. Council on Consumer Product Safety.

According to the EPA, every year Americans buy about 70 million pounds of chemical fertilizer to keep lawns lush, and over 32,000 lbs. of pesticides are used on lawns – at a cost of $2.2 billion. Per acre, it costs more to maintain a lawn than it does to grow corn, rice or sugarcane.

Next time you’re looking for a solution for your dollarweed problem, keep in mind that a change in practices can produce better results long term. If you get a little peckish from all that yard work, you can always try to eat the weeds.


You can read more about chemical controls of dollarweed [here]. Remember, if you aren’t 100% sure of a plant I.D., have a professional identify it for you before eating it! Never eat a plant you do not have a positive I.D. on, the results can be deadly.


Contact the Plant Clinic

The Seminole County Master Gardener Plant Clinic is open Monday – Friday from 9am-Noon and 1pm-4pm. For more information on how to contact a Master Gardener about your gardening questions, visit our website at this [LINK].

 

Edit: 3/23/2020 Thanks to Mari for the correction on Family vs. Genus!

14 Comments on “Questions From The Plant Clinic: Dollarweed

    • Hi Sarey!

      It took a little while to find a research paper discussing this, and unfortunately I can answer for a relative in the same Order, Centella asiatica, but not for our native dollarweed, Hydrocotyle bonariensis.

      They likely have similar, but not identical nutrient content. It would be an interesting study to conduct, as ethnobotany and utilizing plants we consider weeds in the garden is an emerging field of study and becoming more popular among the general public!

      “Leaves of the Asiatic pennywort are 87.7% moisture and 2% protein on a fresh weight basis (16.26% dryweight), 0.2% fat, 6.7% carbohydrate,1.6% fiber, and 1.6% ash (Bautista etal., 1988; Zanariah et al, 1986). Fresh leaves are an excellent source of vita-min C, containing about 7 mg/100 g(Gunasekara and Ravindran, 1989) and contain 738 IU of vitamin A and 0.09mg of vitamin B 1/100 g fresh edible material (Bautista et al., 1988). When the leaves are allowed to wilt, however,95% to 99% of the vitamin C is lost(Kailasapathy and Koneshan, 1986).The plant is also a relatively good source of the minerals Ca (171 mg/ 100 g edible), P (32), and Fe (5.6)(Bautista et al., 1988; Jayaweera, 1982;Turton, 1993). Leaf composition varies somewhat with location.”

      Excerpted from: http://www.academia.edu/19351641/Asiatic_Pennywort_Centella_asiatica_L._Urb._A_little-known_vegetable_crop

  1. Has anyone ever developed blisters from hand weeding the roots? I seem to every time I dig deeply to remove the long, white root.

    • Hi Audrey!

      It is not a problem I have encountered before! As this is a pretty commonly eaten plant, it might be an allergy unique to just a few, or it could be something else in the soil that is causing your skin problems. I’m not a doctor though, just a plant nerd, so you might want to speak to a medical professional about it if it becomes a lingering problem.

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Kaydie

  2. Is dollar weed hurting flower plants? Is like a parasite living off the plant and using its nutrients?

    • Hi Hava!

      Dollarweed is not a parasite (it doesn’t steal nutrients directly from other plants) but it does compete for nutrients in the soil, just like all plants do. If it is better able to take up nutrients than a flowering plant – instances where soil conditions favor the dollarweed over the flowering plant would help with this – then it could possibly outgrow the other plants in a garden.

  3. Love the article! One little note, dollarweed is in the Apiaceae family, Hydrocotyle species

  4. How does dollarweed spread?….Does that small pink flower that grows from a clump release seeds that spread around by the wind or run over by a lawnmower? Does the Bulb split and a new sprout happens?

    • Hi Lindy!

      It spreads both by seeds and by its underground rhizome (those thick white stems/roots underground). If the rhizome is moved (say by mower blades) from one area to another it can spread that way, otherwise it will spread by seed.

  5. What makes dollar weed go away can I smother it out? What can I do??

    • Hi Keya!

      When I have tried to smother it in the past I have had mixed results. You could probably smother it with a thick layer of cardboard, but no guarantees it will not come back.

      Hand pulling can work if you get the whole root system up – but that can be difficult as well.

      Changes in your cultural practices can also slow it down – dollarweed usually likes a wet area, so if you can reduce irrigation or improve drainage, that might slow its growth in your garden.

      There are a lot of chemicals that can be used to treat for it, but if you can try to change the water, smother it, or handpull, that would be the safest option.

      You can find UF/IFAS’s recommended chemicals for control of dollarweed here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep389

    • Hi Sallie!

      I don’t keep rabbits, and there isn’t a central repository list of plants to check, so I asked our livestock agent, JK Yarborough (you can find his blog profile by clicking here).

      He let me know that as far as he is aware, dollarweed isn’t toxic to rabbits, though he isn’t sure if they’d have a preference for it over other things. If your rabbit accidentally eats some dollarweed, however, it isn’t something to worry about.

      Hope that helps!

      Kaydie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *