Houttuynia cordata


Also known as:

Chameleon plant, yu xing cao, fish mint

Family: Saururaceae

Origin: Asia

Houttuynia leaves and white flowers.
Small groundcover with creeping stems and heart-shaped leaves. Can be deciduous or evergreen.

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Whole region — Progressive containment, council delivered

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Deciduous or evergreen groundcover herb < 1 m tall. Stems are creeping. Leaves are heart-shaped, < 7 cm long and green or variegated green/cream/yellow/red. Flowers are small, white and borne in spikes in summer.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell houttuynia. As houttuynia is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant houttuynia within the Auckland region.

Auckland Council will manage houttuynia at all sites where it is known to occur.

If you see houttuynia anywhere in the Auckland region, please report it to Auckland Council at pestfree@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz.


Damp and shady habitats, wetlands, riparian margins, forest, shrubland, gardens.


Possibly sets seed. Vegetative spread from rhizome or stolon fragments. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Rapidly forms dense colonies. Potential to suppress native seedling recruitment and alter canopy composition.


Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species. Please report to Auckland Council.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Houttuynia leaves growing out of timber wall.
Leaves are green and heart-shaped with red edges. Flowers are small and with with distinctive large anthers.
Close up of Houttuynia leaves and single flower.
Can grow up to 1m tall and bear white flowers in summer. Very fast growing forming dense colonies.
Close up of Houttuynia leaves.
Some seeds may be viable but most easily spread through rhizomes. Can regrow from garden waste.
Houttuynia plant in garden.
Very invasive weed that Auckland Council will control if found. Can prevent native seeds from germinating.