Houttuynia cordata

Family: Saururaceae
Genus: Houttuynia (hoo-TY-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: cordata (kor-DAY-tuh) (Info)
View this plant in a garden




Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Winter/Early Spring

Mid Spring

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

By simple layering

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Florence, Alabama

Prattville, Alabama

Vincent, Alabama

Tucson, Arizona

Eureka, California

Larkspur, California

Lompoc, California

Merced, California

San Diego, California

San Francisco, California

Atlanta, Georgia(2 reports)

Troy, Illinois

Marrero, Louisiana

Thibodaux, Louisiana

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Rosedale, Maryland

Dearborn Heights, Michigan

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Troy, Michigan

Plainfield, New Jersey

Gastonia, North Carolina

Greensboro, North Carolina

Glouster, Ohio

Springfield, Ohio

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Austin, Texas

Arlington, Virginia

Spotsylvania, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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On Sep 27, 2020, Carole_S from Bethesda, MD wrote:

I have read all the comments and have to give my Negative AND Positive experience. After 5 years of digging up the deep roots and rhizomes all over my beds and lawn, I have discovered the amazing medicinal benefits of this plant. Now I go to friend's yard who has it and dig it up there to put in pots so I can cut the leaves, wash and eat them. Also find a few that have come back in my yard so am thankful for that, but kick myself for eradicating it almost 100%. Until you read about its medicinal effects below, you might not be interested in how I eat and drink the tea from the leaves, but you definitely may be after you read the info below.

I bought dried leaves from Amazon and simmer 1 tsp of dried leaves/cup of water for about 10 minutes, strain it and drink it 30 mi... read more


On May 2, 2016, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant grows readily from cuttings or seeds, and is best grown in a sealed container if control is desired. It even grows in shallow water without complaint. It withstands mild freezes, and probably hard freezes with some protection. It succeeds in both shady and partially sunny areas with good moisture. It reseeds itself readily, and is one of the most resilient tropical herbs.
It has culinary and medicinal value in Vietnamese and Chinese culture, and has long been noted for health benefits. Of course, one must get past the peculiar fishy aroma and flavor first, but like many things, it is an acquired taste.


On Jun 29, 2015, Vestia from San Francisco, CA wrote:

On the West coast, this plant must be fought, and eradicated wherever found. It is extremely invasive in moist areas. Horrible plant.


On Apr 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

I have found this to be the noxious weed that most others here have found it. It's one of the most aggressive weeds I know. The roots go down to China and can't be pulled out, and though glyphosate herbicide can kill the top growth it doesn't kill the root.

I have managed to kill a small colony in dry shade by spraying all the top growth weekly with 4% glyphosate for a full growing season.

I notice that the variegated form often loses the variegation and reverts to the plain-leafed species.

One other point: I find that this plant can self-sow. I occasionally find seedlings as far as 40 feet from the original planting. So don't count on a root barrier to confine its spread.

BONAP now reports this has naturalized in 8 states from Te... read more


On May 23, 2012, pjoid123 from Spotsylvania, VA wrote:

This plant can be a bane if planted in the wrong location. If you have an area where you do not care where the plant roams, it is a great ground cover. Unlike its cultivar "Chameleon" it can withstand fairly dense shade very well. It's impossible to kill, so I just pull up individuals that have roamed too far. I wear rubber gloves when pulling up the plants as it stinks to high heaven--like yesterday's garbage. In the Far East, some folks eat the plant and it supposedly has medicinal properties. Better them than me!


On May 3, 2011, cimonc from Grand Rapids, MI wrote:

I can see how the variegated one is not as appealing as the solid green one. I have the solid green one and I also love it. I have had it for 6 years and it has contained itself nicely filling in and standing up to 2 feet around my larger perennials. I love the dainty white flowers that look like they are floating in between other plants or floating in the air.


On Feb 24, 2011, SuFre from Lexington, SC wrote:

This plant will take over the planet if given the chance. DO NOT plant it! It has completely taken over almost every bed at my mother's house, and it is impossible to eradicate. I have spent several years painting leaves with poison, and although part of that plant might die, the far-stretching roots send up more plants in response. The roots are spongy and elastic and there is no way to get them completely out of the soil. My mother shared two hostas with me and in the soil lay the deathly roots which now bring me houttuynia in the weirdest spots ever. Every year for the past five years I have had to watch diligently for the plant to erupt at which time I go nuts! I dig carefully to try to get all the root - but I NEVER do. It is the durge of the plant world. And stinky too. You... read more


On Oct 10, 2010, rosalma from Mendon, MA wrote:

I was quite surprised to see the amount of negatives for houttuynia. I absolutely love it, but then I have it growing in a huge (24" round x 15" deep) pot right next to my fountain. It gets morning shade and from 10:00 am until sunset it's in full sun. The colors are gorgious (lots of creamy yellow, peach & orange, lime green, and then the tiny white flowers.) I tried putting some in the ground, but it never came back for me, so I guess our MA winters are too cold. I do bring the pot in every fall and leave it in the garage - it's in full swing by April, and then goes back outside - I've been doing this for 6 years now. I add a little fish emulsion once it starts to grow and then every couple weeks through the summer. Love the orangy scent too. I also grew it in the ground in SC, ... read more


On Aug 12, 2010, spiderburban from Dearborn Heights, MI wrote:

Run screaming from this plant! It is extremely invasive and will over power all your good perennials very quickly. It seems to love swamp-wet or desert arid..shade or blazing sun. It smells absolutely putrid & vile when you are bending over it ripping its rapidly spreading root system from varying depths/levels of soil. we spent hours pulling every root out we could find, filling 4 lawn bags full of the stuff before we put down sod, AFTER dumping Preen and spraying Round-up all over the area-it is happily waving its new leaves from inbetween sod blades of grass...im at my wits end at how to kill this beast!! It even crawls under sidewalks and over brick walls-there is no stopping it once its on the move!! Im outside detroit, mich and winter freezing/snow doesnt even do anything


On Aug 9, 2010, butch1 from Eureka, CA wrote:

Just don't consider planting this obnoxious pest, period. It is a nightmare. Roundup kills the tops but enough runners survive to bring out a new, even bigger, spring crop. Intentionally planting this monster in my garden was the worst mistake I ever made!!


On Apr 7, 2010, gigglespat42 from Atlanta, GA wrote:

wow, this is the worst plant I have ever come across, in a year it has overtaken my large center flower garden, it is EVERYWHERE! it intertwines with other plants roots and strangles them, it smells horrific! Even when I soak the garden I cannot pull up more than 8 inches or so of the roots, after 3 hrs of pulling up this plant I have only 'removed' 1/8 of it visibly from the garden. Please oh please I hope someone can find something to kill it!


On Jul 4, 2009, Valbaby from Norristown, PA wrote:

I echo everyone else's sentiments about this plant. I think it is pleasing to the eye and can be effective in covering a large area quickly, however it's almost impossible to eradicate.

I have come across a product that is helping me. It's called Vine-X. If you Google it you will find it. It's not expensive but it seems to work better than your average weed and vine killers. It goes to the roots to kill the plant and seems to slow it's spread. What I like about it is that you brush it on the plant rather than spray (and kill nearby plants who are behaving). After only about 24 hours I see the plant dying off. I give it a few days to get to the root and kill it, then I dig up the plant from the roots.

I'm trying to stay on top of all new growth. It's... read more


On Jun 20, 2009, blossomkat from Gaithersburg, MD wrote:

I live in Gaithersburg, MD and I purchased this plant because I was looking for ground cover in a shady area. I have a very smal front yard (town house), and the two plants that I purchased have multiplied into an invasion. It chokes out everything in it's way. It smells horrible. I would not recommend this plant even if you have a large area. Eventually it will overwhelm everything. The Maryland Cooperative Extension Service suggested that I dig deep to get rid of the roots


On Mar 17, 2009, Nick1 from Plainfield, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

I grow this for its culinary value. This plant is used in SE Asian cuisine. In china is known as zhe er gen or yu xing cao (meaning fishy smell). Both the roots and leaves are used. It is, however, quite invasive.


On Mar 13, 2007, peony01 from Prattville, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Although this plant is a an excellent ground cover, in my area, zone 8a, it is a very aggressive plant. If you grow it in raised beds, it will cover the bed. It is not a plant that I recommend to gardeners in my area.


On Mar 29, 2006, melangemerchant from Adelaide,
Australia (Zone 10a) wrote:

Houttuynia cordata is an important herb used in S.E. Asian cooking, particularly popular in Vietnam where it is used fresh in cold rolls, salads and other dishes. Rarely cooked it may be added chopped to a soup at the end of cooking. Should be grown in a container to prevent it becoming rampant. Propagation is easy by division or stem cuttings. Very worth while herb in my opinion.


On Dec 11, 2005, CastIronPlant22 from Lompoc, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

This one was also very invasive. I like the other one better, this one has no color to it.


On Aug 1, 2005, raptorannie from Gastonia, NC wrote:

although this plant is beautifully variegated and has a sweet flower, and a citrusy smell, it is worse than mint as far as being invasive. be careful where you plant it - it will take over everything! i have just pulled up about a 3' X 10' area where it killed my black eyed susans and a hosta. it even grew under my deck! it has running tubers underground, so it is no easy task to get it all pulled up, and "round up" doesn't even kill it all. a great plant in a confined area or as a total groundcover - just be sure you want it where you plant it!


On Sep 4, 2004, ladyannne from Merced, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a lovely, cheerful slow growing ground cover that grows in shade and requires little to no care. Reportedly, it can be aggressive when grown in wet full sun.

We had to remove all the Houttuynia due to a broken water pipe. I carefully removed and replaced all of it, taking as much of it in soil as possible, hoping to do little damage. Instead, when I replaced it, it went bonkers for the first time in six years. Now I have hope this will one day cover an entire shaded area.