Dollarweed: A Perspective

IMG_1303.JPGFlorida native Hydrocotyle umbellata (hi-droh-KOT-ih-lee um-bell-AY-tuh) Manyflower Marshpennywort; Dollarweed is a short-lived perennial ground cover that occurs near and in lakes, ponds, wet prairies and swamps. There are seven Hydrocotyle species that occur in Florida, five of which are native. For a list of all Hydrocotyle species in Florida, visit Atlas of Florida Plants HERE. Dollarweed is also common in over-irrigated lawns where it is often regarded as a pest.  In fact, if you do a quick Google search for Dollarweed, the results are “How to Kill Dollarweed,” “Killing Dollarweed” and “How to Control Dollarweed”. These less than desirable headlines are typically linked to having the perfect lawn and it’s a bit overkill. If you were to mention “Dollarweed” to other gardeners or homeowners, the reaction is typically “Yikes, get rid of it!” In my attempt to dispel negative connotations, I will refer to this plant as Marshpennywort.  

Having a little diversity and variation show up in a monoculture of grass should be a good thing, right?  Marshpennywort can be aesthetically pleasing and create texture in an otherwise monotonous carpet of lawn.  It is easy to see that the leaves of Hydrocotyle umbellata and other Marshpennyworts are quite intriguing and worthy of forgoing the jug of herbicide.  In our landscape, we celebrate this lovely ground cover that reminds us of small lily pads.  The shiny, leathery green leaves grow roadside at the edge of our property and pop up to say hello after we’ve had a good amount of rain.  Because we have a diverse variety of other native plants and ground cover, this plant is not aggressive in our yard.  Mother Nature tells us that Marshpennywort is growing there for a good reason, providing ecological benefits in the web of life for insects, microorganisms and other critters.  The leaves are the perfect shape for butterflies and dragonflies to perch on.  You might even find beneficial toads that enjoy this moist habitat.  Marshpennywort also attracts an assortment of pollinators to its umbel of flowers when in bloom.  Look HERE to view the flowers. IMG_1304.JPG Another benefit of Marshpennywort is its edibility. However, as with any edible wild plant, caution is advised.  Never eat anything unless you are absolutely certain you know what it is.  Marshpennywort has a high water uptake that makes it more susceptible to the absorption of toxic pollutants from herbicides, pesticides, whatever is lurking in the soil, and tainted water runoff.  Be sure you are cultivating from clean areas.  We don’t bother to eat ours as many dogs pass by this area to do their business and because of road pollutants that might have washed up into the yard.  For more information, visit Eat the Weeds HERE.

 The lesson here is that we should ease up on what we think is a “weed” and give our landscapes and lawns a little more freedom and allow for diversity.  In the right landscape situation, Marshpennywort can be a beautiful addition. Let Marshpennywort intermingle with other native ground covers such as Phyla nodiflora (Turkey Tangle Frogfruit), Mimosa strigillosa (Sunshine mimosa) or Bacopa monnieri (Herb-of-Grace).
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