Florida betony, also known as rattlesnake weed, is a member of the mint family with the characteristic square stem and spade shaped, scalloped leaves. It’s edible and grows like a … wait for it … weed. Seriously, people in the southern US spend way too much time, effort, and money to remove this plant when they should be eating it!
It’s very happy in places where we’ve cleared taller plants, but it likes some shade. In full sun, it is tough and small, but in indirect sunlight, like under our shipping containers, it gets lovely, juicy, light green growth. It’s reasonably tasty, too.
The whole plant is edible. The leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. I’ve only tried raw so far. They have the tiniest bit of cress flavor but are otherwise bland with a touch of sweetness. Unlike many mints, they aren’t furry.
The tubers attached to the long white roots are also edible both raw and cooked. When fresh and firm, the tubers taste like mild jicama. They are pretty good in soup, too. Those roots are why it’s so hard to eradicate. The smallest chunk of root or tuber will grow you a new plant.
Green Deane at Eat the Weeds notes that
No one does nutritional research on the Florida Betony. However, nutrition for the S. affinis per 100 grams is: Calories 75, total fat 0, dietary fiber 2 grams, protein 2.6 grams, carbohydrate 17 grams, cholesterol (mg) 0, sodium (mg) 4, sugars (g) o.
As stachys affinis is related, we can assume similar values, but this situation reminds me of a pet peeve of mine: how hard it is to get nutrition information on food you grow (or forage). I mean, seriously, who has thousands of dollars to spend on each plant to get its nutritional profile? I’d really love to see a study funded that lets people send in plants prepared for eating, does a nutritional analysis, and tells us if our home cooked, home grown food is actually good for us.
Anyway, this stuff grows well here and I’ll be embracing that instead of try to evict it.