Houttuynia cordata, also known as fish mint, fish leaf, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort, or Chinese lizard tail, 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.
It is considered an invasive plant because of its ability to regrow rhizomes from any segment of its foliage.
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 as their roots run deep and actively spread. 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.
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, it is commonly used in salads, salsas, or cooked with other vegetables, and as a garnish over side dishes. The tender roots can also be ground into chutneys along with dry meat or 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, it is called Giấp cá, and it is used 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.
Zhé'ěrgēn (Chinese: 折耳根) is the edible rhizome of Houttuynia cordata (Yuxingcao, 鱼腥草 'fish smelling leaf') with a fresh, spicy, peppery flavour that is used in southwestern Chinese cuisine, i.e. that of Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan and western Guangxi. Typically the leaves are eaten in Sichuan and the root in Guizhou. Zhé'ěrgēn fried with cured 'la rou' (a dried meat resembling 'Chinese bacon') is one of the staple dishes of Guizhou.
Notable uses include:
- part of the extensive fried rice cuisine of Guizhou
- a condiment to migan and mixian noodles when served in broth
- as a component of dipping sauces used with the Shiping and Jianshui tradition of barbecued tofu
- raw consumption as part of cold-tossed salads, when it is most frequently combined with coriander, vinegar, fresh chilli, and soy sauce.
The leaves are also a little peppery and are frequently consumed in the region.
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.
- "Houttuynia cordata, Thunb". KewScience, The Royal Horticultural Society, UK. 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
- "Houttuynia cordata Thunb". Plants for a Future. 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
- "Houttuynia cordata (Chameleon Plant, Rainbow Plant) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox". plants.ces.ncsu.edu. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
- Global Invasive Species Database: Houttuynia cordata, accessed 2008-07-06
- Vietnamese Herbs: Fish Mint, Accessed 9 October 2018.
- Sunset: 5 Delicious Vietnamese Herbs to Grow and Eat, Accessed 9 October 2018.
- Cookpad, CookBook Inc., Accessed 9 October 2018
- NPR Inc.:Banh Xeo (Sizzling Crepes), Accessed 10 October 2018
- Lau, K. M; Lee, K. M; Koon, C. M; Cheung, C. S; Lau, C. P; Ho, H. M; Lee, M. Y; Au, S. W; Cheng, C. H; Lau, C. B; Tsui, S. K; Wan, D. C; Waye, M. M; Wong, K. B; Wong, C. K; Lam, C. W; Leung, P. C; Fung, K. P (2008). "Immunomodulatory and anti-SARS activities of Houttuynia cordata". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 118 (1): 79–85. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.03.018. PMC 7126383. PMID 18479853.
- Kumar, M; Prasad, S. K; Hemalatha, S (2014). "A current update on the phytopharmacological aspects of Houttuynia cordata Thunb". Pharmacognosy Reviews. 8 (15): 22–35. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.125525. PMC 3931198. PMID 24600193.
- Wang, L; Cui, X; Cheng, L; Yuan, Q; Li, T; Li, Y; Deng, S; Shang, H; Bian, Z (2010). "Adverse events to Houttuynia injection: A systematic review". Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine. 3 (3): 168–76. doi:10.1111/j.1756-5391.2010.01091.x. PMID 21349062. S2CID 25810338.
- 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.[permanent dead link]
- 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. doi:10.1093/jaoac/90.1.60. PMID 17373437. Retrieved 31 March 2010.[permanent dead link]
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Houttuynia cordata.|