Houttuynia cordata, Vegetable

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Houttuynia cordata is one of the two species of flowering plants in genus Houttuynia of family Saururaceae. It is native to Japan, Korea, southern China and Southeast Asia. It is literally known as 'fishy-smell herb' in Chinese; In English, it is known as Lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort and Bishop's weed.

Houttuynia cordata is a medium-sized, herbaceous, spreading perennial plant, 20-80 cm tall. The proximal part of the stem is trailing and produce adventitious roots that spread vigorously underground. The distal part of the stem grows vertically. The large, heart-shaped leves are alternate, 4-9 cm long and 3-8 cm broad. The white or greenish-yellow flowers are borne in summer on a terminal spike 2-3 cm long.

Houttuynia cordata is grown as a leaf vegetable, particularly in Vietnam, where it is used as a fresh herbal garnish or in salad. The leaves have a unusual taste that is often termed as fishy, thus the common name fishy-smell herb. In China, in Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces, the roots are used as a root vegetable.

Houttuynia cordata var. Chameleon, a variegated form, has leaves that are broadly edged in yellow and flecked with red, but its invasiveness can be a headache if it gets out of control. Due to its invasiveness, it is best to plant Houttuynia cordata in a large, wide pot with minimal drainage holes, or in a restricted root zone area.

Houttuynia cordata
Houttuynia cordata
Author: Koba-chan (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0-unported)

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