Vascular – Exotic
Herbs - Dicotyledons other than Composites
Terrestrial. Wetlands, gardens, freshwater margins, damp ground, forest, shrubland and fenland.
Dense, deciduous (semi-evergreen in warm areas) groundcover herb to 1m. Slender couch-like rhizomes. Stems creeping and semi-ascending. leaves heart-shaped, up to 7 cm long, usually variegated cream, bronze, scarlet and green, soon reverting to green. Peppery scent when crushed. Flowerhead a small spike with minute flowers and 4 white bracts (petals) at the base, Dec-Feb. Usually dies back to rootstock over winter.
Ivy has similar leaves but woody stems. 3 coloured leaves (green, red, creamy ) inmost commonly cultivated form. Leaves are unpleasant-smelling.
December, January, February
Reproduces by rhizome fragments or possibly seeds.
Japan South to mountains of Nepal and Java.
Reason for introduction
houttuynia: Named for Dr Maarten Houttuyn (1720 – 1798), a Dutch botanist.
References and further reading
Johnson, A. T. and Smith, H. A (1986). Plant Names Simplified: Their pronunciation, derivation and meaning. Landsman Bookshop Ltd: Buckenhill, UK.