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.


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

If found in the environments listed below, please report to Auckland Council.
- Rural areas
- Mapped wetlands
- Properties bordering wetlands.
- within a flood zone of wetlands
For all other environments, the recommended approaches are listed below.

Physical control

Manual removal for small infestations can be effective before producing seeds. Replanting the area with desirable plant species suppresses regrowth. Monitoring the area and removing any seedlings before they set seed will work towards permanent control.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All plant parts.

Disposal options: Green waste bins or landfill.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Seek advice from herbicide stockists.

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray 200ml glyphosate 360 per 10L water + 10ml penetrant

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray 5g metsulfuron-methyl 600 + 10 ml penetrant/ 10L water. For infestations where exposure to a water body is likely to occur, foliar spray 200ml Glyphosate 360 per 10L water + 10ml penetrant

* Apply chemicals as per instructions on the herbicide container.
* PPE gear should always be worn when missing and applying chemicals.

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.