Houttuynia Cordata

Houttuynia  cordata is an ancient Chinese herb known for its legendary medicinal powers. This perennial ground cover is mostly found in the mountainous areas of eastern Asia. The plant is also native to countries of Japan, Korea and southern China where it thrives in moist soil and shallow water areas with shade.

This herbaceous plant is recognized for its extra rampant and invasive growth accompanied by an indefinite spread. It can grow to height of up to 15 inches.

It is also serves culinary purposes in many countries of the world like Vietnam where it is consumed as a vegetable.

The ancient Chinese people were the first to discover the medicinal properties of this plant. This herb, when dried and brewed can be extremely effective for detoxification, hypertension, constipation, pulmonary tuberculosis, diuretics etc. Today the various healing properties of houttuynia cordata is gaining popularity in the western countries as well.

Photo of Houttuynia cordata Picture 1 – Houttuynia cordata Flower
Source – uni-graz.at

The English names attributed to this herb are lizard tail, fishwort, heartleaf and Bishop’s weed.

Houttuynia Cordata Growth and Description

These herbaceous plants grow extremely fast and can attain a length of 20-80 centimeters. This plant grows horizontally as well as vertically. The proximal part of the stem of this plant tends to drag or trail giving rise to adventitious roots at the same time. However the lateral part of the stem grows vertically in the upward direction.

The broad, colorful leaves of the plant are shaped more or less like a heart. These leaves are about 4-9 centimeters in length and 3-8 centimeters in diameter. Majority of the times, the leaves are green in color; however at occasions they are attributed bronze, variegated cream and scarlet colors.

This plant blooms in the summer time. It bears beautiful greenish-yellow flowers that have large white bracts at the base, held on a terminal spike measuring 2-3 centimeters in length.

Picture of Houttuynia cordata Picture 2 – Houttuynia Cordata Photo
Source – calfloranursery.com

Houttuynia Cordata Cultivation

During the cultivation process of Houttuynia Cordata plants, it is important to remember that these plants can grow at an extremely fast rate and are invasive by nature. Invasive plants are characterized by the ability to grow and spread aggressively, often destroying other plants or vegetation that fall on their way of growth.

Therefore it becomes essential to propagate the plant via proper and calculated division.

Generally people prefer to cultivate the Houttuynia Cordata chameleon variety of plants. The growth rate of this particular variety is controlled and less vigorous compared to its relative species. The chameleon plant is identified to have heart-shaped leaves with a bright yellow and red combination of colors. The leaves of this plant are yellow towards the edges and adorned with red spots.


These plants thrive best in the hardiness zones with temperatures ranging between -29 to -23 Degree Celsius. As such they do not require too much exposure to sunlight. However, a sort of a filtered shade with proportional sunlight suits them best.


Generally the kind of soil having a reasonable amount of moisture content is best for the growth of these plants. Wet soil that is subjected to a partial amount of sunlight could also work wonders for the plant’s growth.


Water is extremely vital and essential for the growth of these plants.

How to get rid of Houttuynia Cordata?

The fast growth rate and invasive characteristic that has been associated with the Houttuynia cordata plant, have sometimes forced gardeners to kill the plant altogether. This pretty perennial plant is identified by its colorful heart-shaped leaves that maybe red, green or yellow. Houttuynia Cordata plants are ground covers that have a tendency to choke out any other kind of vegetation on its way, if its growth goes unchecked.

In order to get rid of the plant you are recommended to follow the steps of instruction enlisted below. The process requires a lot of patience and involves ample digging.

Image of Houttuynia cordata Picture 3 – Houttuynia cordata Image
Source – hugheswatergardens.com

  • Before you begin the mission, it is very important to wear proper gardening gloves so as to avoid blisters. A shovel will prove to be the best tool recommended for the task. In the process of digging the first undesirable plant you have to be extremely careful and prevent from cutting the roots of the plant. The roots known as rhizomes can easily grow into new plants if thrown here and there in the soil. Therefore it is wise to simply place the plants in a bucket or a wheelbarrow.
  • The second step also requires you to continue with step one but with the rest of the plant this time. Continue disposing them in the bucket that you used earlier.
  • The third step obviously involves more digging. However this time your aim will be to uncover and eliminate all the hidden roots of the plant. Deposit these destructive roots in the bucket like you did before.
  • Finally you have to be prepared to destroy the plant altogether. You can do so by burning the plant materials or by discarding them at a landfill site.
  • The last step involves ample patience and could sometimes take a period of a few years or so. During this time period you have to monitor your gardens intensively since these plants can reappear. You are recommended to get rid of any new reappearance of the Houttuynia cordata plants, as soon as possible.

Houttuynia Cordata Medicinal Uses

The H. cordata injection used by the Chinese since ancient times has proved to provide relief from symptoms related with abnormal lungs as well as various infectious diseases. In fact this injection can counteract cancerous pleural effusion and refractory hemoptysis as well. It also has an instantaneous repressing action against Pseudorabies herpes virus.

The popular Japanese beverage ‘dokudami cha’ or Houttuynia cordata tea is known to be very effective in chronic earaches. This ‘poison blocking herb’ is known for its miraculous properties since a long time ago. In China the herb is referred to as the ‘fishy smell herb’ owing to the foul fishy smell the leaves emit when pressed hard. The Vietnamese call it ‘fish-mint’ for similar reasons.

The legendary healing powers of this medicinal herb has earned it the name ‘dokudami’, as ‘doku’ actually means poison and the word ‘dami’ implies to block the poison or stop it from spreading. This herb will continue detoxification even while the patient is sleeping accumulating the toxins discharged by the body.

Houttuynia Cordata Culinary Uses

The Vietnamese use Houttuynia Cordata as a leaf vegetable to garnish dishes. The fishy taste and aroma of the herb have caused people to enjoy it as a mint or basil in many parts of the world.

In several southwestern provinces of China like Guizhou, Sichuan and Yunnah, the roots of this plant is consumed as a root vegetable.

The leaves of the plant is loved and relished in pakoras and salads in places like Manipur.

Houttuynia cordata Picture Picture 4 – Houttuynia cordata Leaf
Source – bayareawaterplants.com

Side Effects

There have been no side effects associated with the herb Houttuynia cordata till date. However, it always recommended consulting a physician before consumption or usage of any kind of medicinal herbs.



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