Houttuynia cordata, also known as Chameleon plant, Bishop's Weed and Lizard Tail is said to have medicinal uses and widely used in cooking in it's native Asia. But here in my garden on Long Island, it's invasive and from what research I've done, its not going to be easy to get rid of.
At first, I was excited to have such a lovely groundcover. In one area of my garden, the previous owners had even planted a variegated leaf variety of the plant, which is really quite attractive. But then I noticed how it continued to spread and grow upright (nearly 15 inches tall against the stone wall). It's choking out my hostas now, competing for space and light.
It spreads by rhizomes and unless every bit of that rhizome is removed, the plant will continue to sprout. The leaves and stems have a strong odor when crushed, a bit like really strong cilantro (in my opinion). So even when I tried to remove some of it, the smell remained on my hands and gloves for hours afterwards!
Doing some research online, most people who have tried to remove it have had little success. And those that were successful, admitted it took over 2 years to get rid of it completely and a lot of RoundUp. Some suggest smothering it with a tarp. Others say to mow it down and then apply the RoundUp. Ugh.
So it was to my utter surprise when I saw it for sale in the Garden Center a few weeks ago. A woman was looking at it and about to put it into her cart when I felt compelled to warn her on it's invasiveness. She was grateful for the information and quickly put it back on the rack. This plant likes low light and high moisture conditions - great for a bog, wet slope or naturalistic pond area. Another option would be to keep it in a container. Sadly, I have inherited this plant when we bought the house. I may not get to it this year, but removing it will certainly be on the agenda for next year. Have you ever seen this plant? Do you have it and have you tried to get rid of it? I'd love to hear from you.