Houttuynia

Also known as:
Chameleon Plant, Yu Xing Cao
Family:
Saururaceae
Origin:
Asia

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.

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

Site Management

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.

Similar species

English ivy
Hedera helix ssp. helix

English ivy can have similar leaves but has woody stems. Ivy does not have the unpleasant smelling leaves that houttuynia has.

RPMP status


National Pest Plant Accord Species
Whole region (Progressive Containment, council delivered)
Houttuynia - Main species image