Snake Herb: A Cool Native Texas Ground Cover

Don’t be turned off by its name: Snake Herb (Dyschoriste linearis). This beautiful Texas native ground cover won’t give you any snake bites! Just lovely petite purple flowers that attract butterflies.

This perennial native ground cover is relatively fast-growing. Add it to a sunny area of your garden with well-drained soil for best results!

Snake herb Texas native groundcover
A patch of Snakeherb in my garden. It can grow between 6-12 inches tall.

What does Snakeherb look like?

Snakeherb has thin leaves on erect stems that can reach up to a foot tall. It forms a dense, green mat of foliage in your garden bed, helping to suppress weeds and act as a natural mulch.

Its stems are dotted with purple flowers in late spring, and potentially again later in the summer with enough rainfall.

Snake herb flowers
The pretty purple blooms of the Snake Herb plant.

How do you grow Snake Herb?

Snake Herb is easiest to grow from transplants in a full sun part of your garden. If you are looking for a ground cover for shady spots in your yard, try Horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis).

Snake Herb prefers moist, but well-drained soil. Give it a little water during the hottest part of the summer. It is a deciduous ground cover, so it will die back in the winter. 

Snakeherb plant
Dyschoriste linearis is a lush ground cover with thin, bright green leaves on erect stems.

Is Snake Herb deer resistant?

If your garden is accessible to deer, this ground cover is not deer resistant! Instead, try Woolly Stemodia (Stemodia lanata) or Frog Fruit (Phyla nodiflora).

Where is Dyschoriste linearis native to?

Dyschoriste linearis is native to the western 2/3 of Texas, except for the Panhandle. It can be found growing in a variety of well-drained soils on grassy slopes. You can see a map of its native range here.

What plants pair well with Snake Herb?

I like to pair native ground covers like Dyschoriste linearis with ornamental grasses, such as Lindheimer Muhly or Gulf Muhly. It also looks nice in front of larger shrubs, such as Cenizo or Flame Acanthus. Try incorporating it with yellow Zexmenia for a pretty low-growing front of a garden bed.

Dyschoriste linearis - Texas native groundcover

If you have an area between your sidewalk and the street commonly known as a “hell strip”, try planting Snakeherb. It should spread quickly, and attract butterflies when in bloom.

Where to buy Snake Herb?

Your best bet is to head to a locally owned nursery that carries native plants. You can also purchase Dyschoriste linearis online from Native Gardeners.

Make sure to write down its scientific name Dyschoriste linearis before you go. A plant can have multiple common names -another common name for Snake Herb is “Polka Dots”. However, a plant only has one scientific (Latin) name. Knowing this name ensures you are getting the right plant!

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