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  Houttuynia cordata
  Family Name : Saururaceae

  Synonyms : Houttuynia cordata, Houttuynia cochinchinensis

  Common Names : Chameleon Plant, Heartleaf, Fishwort

  Chinese Name : 鱼腥草

Chameleon Plant,Heartleaf,Fishwort
  • Record Info
    • Featured in '1001 Garden Plants in Singapore' Book (2ed) :
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Shrub (Herbaceous; Creeper; Trailing), Aquatic & Hydrophyte (Waterside / Marginal)
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Mode of Nutrition :
      Plant Shape :
      Maximum Height :
      0.2 m to 0.3 m
      Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width :
      0.6 m to 0.9 m
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      East Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan), Indian subcontient (Bhutan, Nepal)
      Native Habitat :
      Terrestrial (Riverine; Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland)
      Preferred Climate Zone :
      Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal, Temperate
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      Growth Form: A herbaceous creeper, it can grow up to 30 to 60cm high.
      Foliage: The heart-shaped leaves are simple and arranged alternately along the stem. The leaves are green with a purple leaf surface, the lower part of the petiole forming a sheath around the stem.The leaves emits a strong fishy odour when bruised or rubbed, due to presence of sulphurous compounds. 
      Flowers: The flowers are borne on a spike around 2cm long. The base of the spike has four, white petal-like bracts.
      [Others]: Creeping shrub, 30-60cm height. Leaves heart-shaped, emits strong fishy odour when bruised or rubbed, due to presence of sulphurous compounds. Flowers white.
      Cultivation :
      It is best grown under full sun to partial sun, in moist soil. 
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Food (Herb & Spice)
      [Others]: Young shoots and leaves used in salads and garnishes in Vietnam. Whole plant is antimicrobial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory. Leaves and stems used in decoctions to strengthen immune system, treat cancer and coughs.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Fragrant (Flowers: Time Independent; Foliage; Stems; [Remarks]: Leaves have strong fishy odour.)
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Easy to Grow
      Landscape Uses :
      General, Riverine, Container Planting
      Thematic Landscaping :
      Naturalistic Garden, Water Garden, Bioswales / Sunken Garden, Economic Garden
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Seed / Spore Dispersal :
      Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence)
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun, Semi-Shade
      Water Preference :
      Lots of Water
      Plant Growth Rate :
      Maintenance Requirements :
      [Remarks] (May spread invasively by rhizomes and runenrs under favourable conditions.)
      Propagation Method :
      Stem Cutting, Stolon / Runner, Division
  • Foliar
    • Foliage Retention :
      Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Foliar Type :
      Simple / Unifoliate
      Foliar Arrangement Along Stem :
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Deltoid)
      Foliar Venation :
      Pinnate / Net
      Foliar Margin :
      Entire - Wavy / Undulate
      Foliar Apex / Tip :
      Foliar Base :
      Typical Foliar Area :
      Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )
      Leaf Area Index (LAI) * for Green Plot Ratio :
      4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
      Herbaceous, Runner / Stolon
      Root Type :
      Underground (Fibrous Root)
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Bisexual Flowers
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Flowering Habit :
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Fruit Classification :
      Simple Fruit
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Capsule)
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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