Houttuynia, Bishop’s Weed, Chameleon Plant, etc.
Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’
Houttuynia cordata Thunb. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Bishop’s Weed. It was named and first described by Carl Peter Thunberg. Tropicos says he first published the plant description in Kongl. Vetenskaps Academiens Nya Handlingar in 1783 while the International Plant Names Index says Flora Japonica in 1784. He also named and described the genus in the same publication.
Plants of the World Online by Kew says Houttuynia cordata is the only species in the genus.
The Houttuynia cordata is native to Japan, Korea, southern China. It is perennial in USDA zones 5a-9b. It is especially fond of moist soils and will even grow partially submerged in water. This is one of several plants given to me by Mary Botler when I was living in Leland, Mississippi in 2010 or 2011. I really liked this plant because I hadn’t had it long enough not to like it. I liked the foliage and the flowers plus the very interesting smell of the leaves. Kind of reminded me of fish with lemon pepper.
The edible roots are used in Zhe’ergen in China.
It grows very well in partly shady areas but will also grow in more sunny sites. It likes moisture but is also somewhat drought tolerant. This is one plant that will definitely not stay where you put it and will pop up several feet away from where you originally had it. In fact, this plant will become invasive and can become hard to manage. But, if you are like me, you wouldn’t mind it growing here and there. I read one report of it coming back after several years of it being removed.
Many people like this plant I am sure but I have never met any. The fact that they can run rampant would be a good reason, I guess. Personally, I enjoyed it but maybe that was because I only had a couple of years with it.
I didn’t bring any of these with me when I moved to Missouri, but I think I should find a source since they are hardy here. Then I will have some to share.
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