Sunday, May 17, 2020

Five Ways to Eat Florida Betony

     So you’ve found some Stachys floridana, Florida Betony, and have heard lots of lovely things about how they taste, but you have no idea where to start. You’ve come to the right place. I have decided to share five of my favorite Stachys recipes with you. All of these recipes involve the root, and some even involve the leaves and/or flowers. I hope they give you some ideas of how to prepare this tasty Florida native.

1. Pickled Betony and other Veggies (Lactofermentation method). This recipe is actually a mixture of veggies, but you can just use a single one if you want. It’s based on the Italian Giardiniera or pickled mixed vegetables. I use a few different wildcrafted Florida plants here, but you can use store bought ones as well.

Florida Giardiniera

4 cups Florida Betony Tubers
2 cups sliced Carrots
1 ½ cups sliced Red Onion
2 cups sliced Celery
2 cups Purslane
2 cups sliced Hearts of Palm (Saw Palmetto hearts)
2 thinly sliced Jalepenos (leave the seeds in if you want more heat)
3-5 Garlic Cloves peeled and thinly sliced
1 sprig fresh Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
3 tablespoons Sea Salt (do not use iodized salt for fermentation)
6 cups filtered mineral Water (using tap water may prevent fermentation)
* 1-2 Grape leaves for each fermentation vessel you are using

     Prepare your brine by dissolving the salt in water. Mix all the ingredients except the brine in a large bowl. Add them to the Fermenting Vessel(s) of your choice (I tend to use mason jars) packing them down as you go. Fill each jar with the brine, leaving 1½ - 2 inches of headroom (the space at the top), between the rim of the jar and the top of the vegetables. Weight the vegetables so they are completely submerged in the brine. Place a1-2 grape leaves on top of your veggies. This will help prevent the formation of mold and the tannins from the grape leaves will help you veggies stay crunchy. Cover the top of the vessel with a lid, coffee filter, paper towel, cheese cloth, or tea towel. Be sure to secure towels with a very tight rubber band or the ring from the canning jars. Place the jar out of direct light. Ferment at room temperature 4 days before checking the flavor. If you prefer the flavor more sour, continue fermenting. If to your taste transfer the jars to the refrigerator. Burp the jars once daily (to release any built-up gasses) the giardiniera does continue to ferment while in the refrigerator. I usually prefer mine at 1 week, but you can allow the fermentation to continue up to 6 weeks.

2. Florida Betony Refrigerator Pickles. This is a simple, and tasty method of pickling. No cooking or waiting necessary with this recipe. Simply put all the ingredients in a jar and leave them overnight. They’ll be ready to eat the next day.

Betony Refrigerator Pickles

Enough Betony Tubers to fill your jar mostly full, with a little space at the top
1/4 cup Sweet Onion, sliced
1 teaspoon powdered Turmeric
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Water
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 ½ teaspoons Sea Salt
¼ teaspoon Sugar or Honey
¼ teaspoon whole Peppercorns
¼ teaspoon whole Mustard Seeds

     Pack a clean pint-sized jar with sliced cucumbers, onion slices, and dill sprigs. Leave a ½ inch of space at the top of the jar for liquid. In a small pot heat the vinegar, water, garlic, and all spices until the mixture comes to a simmer and salt and sugar/honey dissolves. Cool the brine down to warm and fill the jar so everything is covered with brine. Close the lid tightly and refrigerate for over night before eating.

3. Betony as a Pasta Substitute? Yes! Some of you may be familiar with a type of pasta called Gnocchi. Betony can be substituted in any recipe that calls for that pasta. This is one of my favorite recipes that does just that. For those of you that eat meat, you can easily add shrimp, chicken, or prosciutto to this dish and it’s just fabulous!

Florida Betony with Asparagus and Lemon Garlic Sauce

1 pound Betony Tubers
1 bunch of Asparagus
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 small Sweet Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, smashed and chopped
2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour (I use Gluten free)
¼ cup Vegetable Stock
1 cup Almond Milk
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Lemon Zest
Salt and Pepper to taste

     Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salty water to a boil and get a bowl of ice water handy. Boil the Betony tubers for 2 minutes, then move them to the ice water to cool, then set aside. Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and snap off the woody ends. Chop the asparagus into bite size (1-2 inch) pieces. Add the asparagus to a baking sheet Drizzle 2 teaspoons of oil over the asparagus, and rub it around with your hand to make sure it's all coated. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400 for 9-10 minutes. The asparagus is done when it can easily be speared with a fork. Coat the bottom of a large pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for about 30 second more, until very fragrant. Stir in the flour. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the flour forms a smooth paste and coats the onions. Stir in the vegetable stock, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Allow to simmer for about 4 minutes, until reduced by half. Stir in the almond milk. Bring it to a boil, lower heat and allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until smooth and thick. Stir in the lemon juice, zest, Betony and Asparagus. Cook about 30 second more, stirring to coat the vegetables with the sauce. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot and enjoy!

4. Soup is my favorite comfort food. So why not add one of my favorite Florida vegetables to it? Check out this delicious and comforting recipe that uses the root, leaves, and flowers of Stachys floridana.

Easy Veggie Soup

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 ½ cups Yellow Onion, chopped
2 cups Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 ¼ cups Celery, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, crushed and minced
2 pints Vegetable Stock
2 (14.5 oz) cans Diced Tomatoes (undrained)
3 cups Betony Tubers
1 ½ cups fresh Green Beans, cut
1 cup frozen or fresh Peas
½ cup chopped Betony Leaves
¼ cup chopped Parsley
2 Bay Leaves
½ teaspoon dried Thyme
Salt and Pepper to taste
*optional fresh Betony Flowers for garnish

     Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute 4 minutes then add garlic and saute 30 seconds longer. Add in broth, tomatoes, Betony tubers, Betony leaves, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then add green beans and peas. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer about 20 - 30 minutes.

5. Salad is the easiest way to add different vegetables into your diet. This one makes use of fresh Betony tubers, leaves, and flowers.

Cucumber, Betony, and Wild Greens Salad

1 small Sweet Onion, finely chopped
¼ cup Avocado Oil
¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 ½ pounds Cucumbers, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 pound Betony Tubers, sliced thin
2 cups fresh Parsley Leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Betony Leaves, chopped
¼ cup Betony Flowers
¼ cup young Spanish Needle Leaves, chopped
¼ cup Peppergrass Leaves, chopped

     Whisk onion, oil, and vinegar in a large bowl. Add all the veggies and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

     Do these sound tasty? Let me know what you think! Feel free to play around with these recipes and make them your own! I’d love for you to share your experiences! If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Monday, May 11, 2020

Florida Betony

     Alright. It’s time for a soapbox. The word “invasive.”

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride. 

     I hear people use the word “invasive” all the time. In most cases, it’s used correctly. However, there are several plants where it is definitely NOT used correctly. If you live in Florida, and use this word to describe Florida Betony, you are not using the word in the correct manner.



An invasive organism is one that has arrived in a place from somewhere else and has a harmful effect on that place (Cambridge Dictionary)

     You see, Florida Betony, Stachys floridana, is native to Florida, and until it was moved to other Southeastern states during the 1940s or 1950s (in nursery containers), it was endemic to Florida (meaning it was ONLY found in Florida). Thanks to those accidental volunteers in nursery containers, it is now found from Texas to North Carolina. So if you live anywhere but Florida, and you’re referring to this plant, feel free to keep calling it invasive. However, those of us in Florida should refrain from describing such a lovely little native as invasive.

     Soapbox over.

     You see, this is one of my favorite natives. And yes, it is quite tenacious and will take over your lovely garden beds. But I welcome it into mine. It’s absolutely delicious and one of my favorite wild edibles. However, it’s also a great herb to get to know for it’s medicinal properties as well.

     Wood Betony, Stachys officinalis, is a very very close cousin to Stachys floridana, and the two plants can be used, mostly, interchangeably. The main difference is that our little Betony doesn’t pack quite the punch that Wood Betony does. However, for centuries Wood Betony was thought to be the best herb to use in almost every situation. The people of ancient Greece felt this plant was more important than clothing. They thought it could cure at least 47 disease states and even had magical powers to keep away evil spirits. These beliefs held on through the Roman Empire and into the Middle Ages where both men and women wore betony amulets to ward off evil. Some claim the name Betony derives from the Celtic word bewton (“good for the head”), referring to its use for cerebral afflictions, such as headaches, nervousness and even hangovers. The herb’s reputation for healing continued well into the 17th century, when Betony was used to treat asthma, bronchitis, kidney problems, excess sweating and to purge the body of worms. In the Middle Ages, it was also the principal remedy used to exercise demons.

     Stachys floridana is an aggressive, perennial herb typically found in lawns, gardens, and landscapes. It has been called wild artichoke, but it is not related to the artichoke, it is actually a member of the Mint or Lamiaceae family. This plant produces quite a few seeds, but it’s main means of reproduction is by rhizomes and tubers, which is why it’s so hard to eradicate from gardens. Small segments of these rhizomes can sprout into new plants or the tuber may be transported to a new area. The only real way to control this plant in your garden is hand-pulling, with careful removal of all the tubers. The plants are characterized by hairy, erect stems reaching 19 inches high that are square in cross-section with flowers in long clusters, heads, or interrupted whorls on the stem. The distinctive pale-colored tuber is segmented in such a way that it resembles the rattle on the tail of a rattlesnake (or a grub), hence the common name of Rattlesnake Weed. The oppositely arranged leaves have blades up to 2 inches long. Flowers grow in clusters of 3 to 6 from the upper leaf axils. The tubular, hairy calyx of sepals has pointed lobes. The two-lipped corolla is up to a 1/2 inch long and white to pink with purple spots. The fruit is a schizocarp less than an inch long that splits in half.

     As I mentioned above, this is one of my favorite wild edibles. The leaves are slightly bitter, but when mixed with other fresh greens, can make a pleasant salad. The flowers are also edible and tasty. However, the tastiest part of this plant is the tuber. It’s mild and earthy, crunchy, and reminds me of a mild radish or even water chestnut. I’m also not the only person to think this way. Another close relative, Stachys affinis or Crosnes, is famous for it’s tubers and those tubers can fetch the hefty price of $150.00 per pound. There’s a great little write-up and recipe for them here. Now, our little Betony may not fetch that high of a price, but I find them super delicious. I toss them into a surprisingly large number of dishes, from salads to soups, sauteed up with a little butter and/or olive oil, yum. But my favorite way to eat them is pickled. They make a great little refrigerator pickle, just add some seasoning and some vinegar and plop them in the fridge. Or you can ferment them. Here’s a post I made on Fermented Lemons a while back. Just substitute the tubers for the lemons, or get really crazy and try both in the same jar!

Here's a video where you can see this great plant in the wild!

Medicinal Uses:

Common Names- Florida Betony, Florida Hedgenettle, Rattlesnake Weed, Rattlesnake Root, Wild Artichoke

Scientific NameStachys floridana

Edibility- The whole plant is edible, but the root is a choice edible.

Summary of Actions- Alterative, anodyne, antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-tumor, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, aromatic, astringent, bitter, cardio tonic, cholagogue, diaphoretic,  emmenagogue, expectorant, mucolytic, nervine, nervous system trophorestorative, sedative, stomachic, styptic, tonic, and vulnerary

Parts Used- The whole plant

Upper Respiratory, Cold, & Flu- A tea or tincture made from the leaves of this mint, not only tastes wonderful, but can help to soothe a sore throat, open up blocked airways, and fight mild fevers.

Headaches- Much like it’s close cousin, Florida Betony can be used to ease headaches, especially headaches accompanied by anxiety or digestive upset. It also has been shown to be effective in some migraine cases, but not as potent as it’s cousin, Wood Betony.

Anxiety, Sleep, and Psychological Health- Wood Betony has historically been used as a remedy for all “head” related conditions. It’s cousin, Florida Betony, can be used in much the same way. It helps to calm anxiety, for which I’d recommend a tea as the act of brewing the tea itself can be soothing as well. It is also a great nervous system tonic, helping to soothe frayed nerves. In many cases, it’s also a mild sedative, especially when the sleepless condition is brought about from anxiety and/or over-thinking.

Panacea- This little herb can be used in just about any herbal formula. It’s helpful to each and every system of the body, and especially to the nervous system. This makes it a great herb to get to know. Historically it was used as a panacea (all heal, or cure-all), and it’s close cousin Wood Betony was even used as such in ancient Greece, where it was known to treat over 47 different maladies.

Skin & Wound Care- The astringent properties of this little herb, especially combined with the antimicrobial properties, make it a wonderful choice for skin and wound care. Not only will it help to cleanse any minor wounds you have, it’ll encourage your skin to heal. A strong tea may also make a great face wash for acne.

Digestive System- Florida Betony can be used to help reduce any ulcers. It’s also a great herb to help treat diarrhea. But this is also where the roots shine. The tubers are delicious, and this alone is a great reason to eat them, but they also are a wonderful prebiotic food. This means that the fibers are not fully digestible, but they are a great food source for beneficial bacteria. Consuming Betony tubers can promote the over-all health of your gut flora which is a great benefit for your whole body.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Florida Betony is considered to be a safe herb to use, even in substantial doses, for the young or old, and during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

     I only included a basic introduction to this delicious and usevul Florida native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Betony, Wood: A Modern Herbal:

Betony- Rich Root, Poor Root: Eat The Weeds:

Edible and Medicinal Plants: Native Plant Consulting:

Florida Betony- Both Native Edible and Weed: University of Florida:

Florida Betony (Stachys floridana): The Family Herbalist:

Florida’s Raddish- Betony: The Florida School of Holistic Living:

Herb to Know- Wood Betony: Mother Earth Living:

Plant of the Month- Florida Betony: The Florida School of Holistic Living:

Stachys Floridana: North Carolina Extension Gardener:

Wood Betony: The Medicinal Herb Gardens at ONU:

Wood Betony: Richard Whelan:

Wood Betony- A Monograph: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine:

Wood Betony Stachys officinalis: Annie’s Remedy:


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     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...