Also known as:
Chameleon Plant, Ground Ivy

General description

Robust, perennial, deciduous groundcover <60cm tall. Extensive creeping roots with many thin, erect stems. Heart-shaped leaves <7.5cm long in mixture of reds, pinks, yellow, creams, greens, & bronzes, greater colour in full sun. Small white flowers (summer) on short erect stems. Seeds without fertilisation, allowing it to multiply rapidly.

Hardy plant in sheltered locations, growing best in shallow water or moist loamy soils: wetland marshes, forest floor, stream margins. Growth moderated by drier conditions.

Seed, stem fragments, & vegetatively by creeping stems & rhizomes.

Rapidly form dense colonies. Changing native composition.

Site management

Eliminate immediately before species becomes established. Check 3-monthly until eradicated.

Recommended approaches

1. Report it immediately to the Auckland Council Biosecurity team, who will arrange for its control at their expense.
2. Weedmat for 3-12 months.
3. Dig out, removing all plant material. Repeat for regrowth.
4. Vial treatment (1g metsulfuron/20ml) in vials 2-3 m apart, move weekly.
5. Spray spring - autumn to reduce effect on nearby plants use a plastic shield &/or cut back and spray regrowth (5g metsulfuron + 10ml penetrant/10L).
6. Weed wipe spring - autumn (5g metsulfuron + 1ml penetrant/1L).

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

English ivy
Hedera helix ssp. helix

English ivy can have similar leaves but has woody stems. Ivy does not have the unpleasant smelling leaves that houttuynia has.

RPMS status

Total Control - Whole Region
National Pest Plant Accord species - nationwide
houttuynia - Main species image