Houttuynia cordata

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Houttuynia cordata
Houttuynia cordata.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Piperales
Family: Saururaceae
Genus: Houttuynia
Species: H. cordata
Binomial name
Houttuynia cordata

Houttuynia cordata (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: 魚腥草; pinyin: yúxīng cǎo; literally: "fishy-smell herb"; Japanese: dokudami 蕺草, literally "poison blocking plant"; Vietnamese: giấp cá; Lao: pak kao tong ຜັກຄາວທອງ; Thai: phakkaawtong ผักคาวตอง, ผักคาวทอง, พลูคาว; Korean: 약모밀, 어성초. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok,and in Mizo as Uithinthang. In English, it is known as lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort, and bishop's weed.[1] It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia (the other being H. emeiensis[2]), a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China, and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places.


Houttuynia cordata is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to between 20 and 80 cm. 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 long and 3–8 cm broad. Flowers, growing usually in summer, are greenish-yellow, borne on a terminal spike 2–3 cm long with 4-6 large white basal bracts.


Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon'

The plant grows well in moist to wet soil and even slightly submerged in water in partial or full sun. Plants can become invasive in gardens and difficult to eradicate. Propagation is by division.

In temperate gardens, it is usually found in one of its cultivated forms. 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 vigour of the parent species.


Culinary use[edit]

See also: Zhe'ergen
Houttuynia roots vegetable china.jpg

It is grown as a leaf vegetable, particularly in Vietnam, where it is called giấp cá or diếp cá, 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, particularly Meghalaya, it is locally known as ja mardoh and used in salads or cooked with other vegetables. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok and used as garnish over eromba and singju, ethnic side dishes. In Assam (Assamese) it is called "Masunduri" and popular mostly among the tribes. It is taken raw as salad and cooked along with fish as fish curry.

In the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, the roots are used as a root vegetable and are known as Zhe'ergen (折耳根). The leaves are also consumed.

Traditional use[edit]

Houttuynia cordata is also used in folk medicine for diuresis and detoxification and herbal medicine for its antiviral, antibacterial and antileukemic activities.[3] Recently it has been suggested that it might have anti-obesity properties.[4] H. cordata was used by Chinese scientists to tackle SARS, as it is conventionally used to treat pneumonia.[5]

H. cordata injection, a traditional Chinese medicine, is often used to relieve abnormal lung symptoms, infectious disease, refractory hemoptysis, and malignant pleural effusion in China.[citation needed] Its injection has a direct inhibitory activity against pseudorabies herpes virus in vitro.[6]

It is used in traditional Chinese medicine and can (in injection form) cause severe allergic reactions.[7]

In Japan, the beverage dokudami cha (Japanese: ドクダミ茶; literally "Houttuynia cordata tea") is made from the dried leaves, widely used as a general detoxification for ridding the body of harmful bacteria.

Aroma profile[edit]

Chemical compounds that contribute to the aroma of H. cordata include β-myrcene[8][9] and 2-undecanone.[10]

Invasive weed[edit]

Heartleaf or lizardtail is an alien invasive species in many areas in the United States and Australia.[11] Even the less vigorous forms will spread beyond an apt gardener's control if planted in any moderately moist soil.

Compendial status[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.our-vegetable-garden.com/houttuynia-cordata.htm
  2. ^ Wei W., Z. Youliang, C. Li, W. Yuming, Y. Zehong, and Y. Ruiwu. 2005. PCR-RFLP analysis of cpDNA and mtDNA in the genus Houttuynia in some areas of China. Hereditas 142: 24-32.
  3. ^ "Anti-Enterovirus 71 Activity Screening of Chinese Herbs with Anti-Infection and Inflammation Activities". The American Journal of Chinese Medicine. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Water extract of Houttuynia cordata Thunb. leaves exerts anti-obesity effects by inhibiting fatty acid and glycerol absorption. Miyata M. Koyama T. Yazawa K. Journal of Nutritional Science & Vitaminology. 56(2):150-6, 2010. [Journal Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] UI: 20495298
  5. ^ Immunomodulatory and anti-SARS activities of Houttuynia cordata. Lau KM. Lee KM. Koon CM. Cheung CS. Lau CP. Ho HM. Lee MY. Au SW. Cheng CH. Lau CB. Tsui SK. Wan DC. Waye MM. Wong KB. Wong CK. Lam CW. Leung PC. Fung KP. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 118(1):79-85, 2008 Jun 19. [Journal Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] UI: 18479853
  6. ^ Ren, X; Sui, X; Yin, J (2011). "The effect of Houttuynia cordata injection on pseudorabies herpesvirus (PrV) infection in vitro". Pharmaceutical biology 49 (2): 161–6. doi:10.3109/13880209.2010.505242. PMID 20942608. 
  7. ^ http://www.ycwb.com/ycwb/2006-09/19/content_1219074.htm (Chinese)
  8. ^ Lu, Hongmei; Wu, Xianjin; Liang, Yizeng; Zhang, Jian; et al. (2006). "Variation in Chemical Composition and Antibacterial Activities of Essential Oils from Two Species of Houttuynia Thunb". Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 54 (7): 936–940. doi:10.1248/cpb.54.936. PMID 16819207. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  9. ^ Ch, Muhammad Ishtiaq; Wen, YF; Cheng, Y; et al. (2007). "Gas Chromatographic/Mass Spectrometric Analysis of the Essential Oil of Houttuynia cordata Thunb by Using On-Column Methylation with Tetramethylammonium Acetate". Journal of AOAC International 90 (1): 60–67. PMID 17373437. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 
  10. ^ Liang, Minmin; Qi, M; Zhang, C; Zhou, S; Fu, R; Huang, J; et al. (2005). "Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analysis of volatile compounds from Houttuynia cordata Thunb after extraction by solid-phase microextraction, flash evaporation and steam distillation". Analytica Chimica Acta 531 (1): 97–104. doi:10.1016/j.aca.2004.09.082. 
  11. ^ Global Invasive Species Database: Houttuynia cordata, accessed 2008-07-06
  12. ^ "JP 15" (PDF). 2006. Retrieved 31 March 2010. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]