Monday, 20 June 2016

Houttuynia cordata

Houttuynia cordata, 鱼腥草;  魚腥草;蕺草, ຜັກຄາວທອງ; ผักคาวตอง, ผักคาวทอง, พลูคาว; 약모밀, 어성초. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok,, in Hmar as Aithang, in Mizo as Uithinthang, and in Paite as "Aithanglou". In English, it is known as fish mint, lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort, and bishop's weed It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia (the other being H. emeiensis), a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China, and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places.

Houttuynia cordata is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 20–80 cm (7.9–31.5 in). 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 (1.6–3.5 in) long and 3–8 cm (1.2–3.1 in) broad. Flowers, growing usually in summer, are greenish-yellow, borne on a terminal spike 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) long with four to six large white basal bracts.

It is grown 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 northeastern India, particularly Meghalaya, it is locally known as ja mardoh and used in salads or cooked with other vegetables. In Manipur, it is known as toningkok and used as garnish over eromba and singju, ethnic side dishes. In Assam (Assamese) it is called "Masunduri" and popular mostly among the tribes. It is taken raw as salad and cooked along with fish as fish curry.

In the southwestern Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan, the roots are used as a root vegetable and are known as Zhe'ergen (折耳根). The leaves are also consumed.

Houttuynia cordata is used in traditional Chinese medicine for pneumonia and was used by some Chinese scientists in an attempt to treat SARS. Its use in traditional Chinese medicine (in injection form) can cause severe allergic reactions. In Japan, the beverage dokudami cha (Japanese: ドクダミ茶; literally "Houttuynia cordata tea") is made from the dried leaves, widely used as a general detoxification for ridding the body of harmful bacteria.

Chemical compounds that contribute to the aroma of H. cordata include β-myrcene and 2-undecanone.
Heartleaf or lizardtail 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.

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