AppearanceHouttuynia cordata is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to between 20 and 80 cm. The proximal part of the stem is trailing and produces adventitious roots, while the distal part of the stem grows vertically. The leaves are alternate, broadly heart-shaped, 4–9 cm long and 3–8 cm broad. Flowers, growing usually in Summer, are greenish-yellow, borne on a terminal spike 2–3 cm long with 4-6 large white basal bracts.
DistributionHeartleaf or Lizard Tail is an alien invasive species in many areas in the United States and Australia. Even the less vigorous forms will spread beyond an apt gardener's control if planted in any moderately moist soil.
UsesGrown as a leaf vegetable, particularly in Vietnam, where it is called giấp cá or diếp cá and is used as a fresh herbal garnish. The leaf has an unusual taste that is often described as fishy (earning it the nickname "fish mint"), so it is not enjoyed as universally as basil, mint, or other more commonly used herbs.
In North-Eastern India particularly Meghalaya, it is locally known as "Ja mardoh" and used in salads or cooked with other vegetables. In Manipur, its known as toningkok and use as garnish over Eromba and Singju, both are ethnic side dishes.
In the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, roots are used as a root vegetable.
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