Virginia buttonweed, scientifically known as dioda virginiana, belongs to the same family of flowering plants as bedstraw and partridgeberry, the Rubiaceae or madder family. You can find this perennial native to North America throughout the southeastern United States. Considered a weed, the broadleaf plant's spread and invasion is difficult to control.
Virginia buttonweed grows between 6 and 8 inches long, usually branching out horizontally instead of vertically, but it can grow upright. The roots run deep and far into the soil.) Their green leaves grow opposite of each other on the stems, reaching up to 2 ½ inches in length and 1 inch in width. As a result of a common virus, the leaves of this weed often have a yellow, mottled appearance. This plant produces flowers both above and below ground between June and August. The white, star-shaped flower consists of four petals and is only a half an inch long. The weed produces a hairy, green fruit that contains two seeds.
While Virginia buttonweed prefers moist or wet areas such as wetlands, river bottoms and pond margins, it can withstand drought-like conditions. The above-ground fruit can float, transferring seeds to new areas via water. This plant also has an aggressive root system that quickly produces new roots and develops rhizomes (stems) which can give birth to new plants. Stems that have been cut can also produce new plants. This makes eliminating Virginia bottomweed very difficult. The weed invades home lawns, golf courses, flower beds, sod farms and alfalfa fields.
To rid your yard or garden of a small infestation of Virginia buttonweed, remove the weed by hand. For this method to be effective, remove most of the root, dry out the plant then burn it to ensure that it doesn't propagate. During the summer, continually monitor your yard for signs of the weed and remove any new plants. As long as you are diligent, you can eliminate the weed from your yard.
Control and eradicate Virginia buttonweed using chemicals. The University of Tennessee Extension service recommends using sulfonylurea herbicides to kill the weed. Choose herbicides that contain the chemicals: chlorosulfuron, metsulfuron or trifloxsulfuron. Apply the herbicide twice, once in May before the weed flowers and then four weeks later. The extension service also states that you can use herbicides that contain three or more phenoxy or phenocy-type chemicals. However, some herbicides can damage nearby plants. Always read and follow the directions on the bottle carefully.