Houttuynia cordata, also known as fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort, Chinese lizard tail, or bishop's weed, is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia (the other being H. emeiensis). It is a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It grows in moist, shady locations.
Houttuynia cordata is a herbaceous perennial plant that can grow to 0.6–1 metre (2.0–3.3 ft), spreading up to 1 metre (3.3 ft). The proximal part of the stem is trailing and produces adventitious roots, while the distal part of the stem grows vertically. The leaves are alternate, broadly heart-shaped, 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and 3–8 cm (1.2–3.1 in) broad. Its flowers are greenish-yellow and borne on a terminal spike 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long with four to six large white basal bracts. It normally blooms in the summer.
Houttuynia cordata grows in moist to wet soil or slightly submerged in water, as long as it is exposed partially or fully to the sun. It can become invasive in gardens and difficult to eradicate. It propagates by division.
It is usually found in one of its cultivated forms in temperate gardens. The 'Chameleon' variety (synonymous with H.cordata 'Court Jester', 'Tricolour', and 'Variegata') is slightly less vigorous than the parent species, with stubbier leaves mottled in both yellow and red. Another common variety, 'Flore Pleno', has masses of white bracts and retains the vigor of the parent species.
Houttuynia cordata has been naturalized in North America and Australia.
It is commonly grown as a leaf vegetable, and is used as a fresh herbal garnish. The leaf has an unusual taste that is often described as 'fishy' (earning it the nickname "fish mint"), so it is not enjoyed as universally as basil, mint, or other more commonly used herbs.
In northeastern India where it is called ja myrdoh, it is used in salads or cooked with other vegetables, and as a garnish over ethnic side dishes. The tender roots can also be ground into chutneys along with dry fish, chilies, and tamarind. It is taken raw as salad and cooked along with fish as fish curry. In Japan and Korea, its dried leaves may be used as a tea.
In Vietnamese cuisine called diếp cá, it is with grilled meat and noodle salad dishes. Fish mint may be used as a garnish with several Vietnamese dishes, such as gỏi cuốn stir-fried beef with fish mint salad, and bánh xèo.
Houttuynia cordata was used in traditional Chinese medicine, including by Chinese scientists in an attempt to treat SARS and various other disorders, although there is no high-quality clinical research to confirm such uses are safe or effective, as of 2018. When administered via injection, H. cordata can cause severe allergic reactions.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Houttuynia cordata.|
- Data related to Houttuynia cordata at Wikispecies
- Flora, The Gardener's Bible, ABC Publishing, Ultimo, NSW, Australia, 2006 ISBN 0-7333-1439-2