Invasive plant identification

Asked July 2, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

This creeping vine has been spreading aggressively in a thickly planted bed and into spaces between flagstones. It reaches about 12" in height. I have not been able to find a matching photo on the web.

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania weed issues invasive species horticulture

1 Response

Hi, and thank you for using the Ask an Expert System.
The plant in the photographs is Houttuynia cordata also known as lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort and bishop's weed. The plants you have are a wild variety as the cultivated varieties may have multicolored leaves. The plant is not native to the U.S. and both the cultivated and wild varieties can become invasive. That is it may grow faster and spread farther than you would like.
The plant is generally considered to be herbicide resistant. Eliminating the plant will take time and diligence on your part. It is recommended that you dig up as much of the plant ad you can. You need to get the rhizomes and all the roots. All of the plant material you pull up should be burned or disposed of in a land fill.
It is generally not possible to get all the roots so this plant will re-spout. You can then treat the new sprouts with a glyphosate based herbicide like roundup. If there are other plants in the bed you could apply the glyphosate with a small paint brush or an envelope dauber. Daubers are available at most office supply stores. You will need to keep an eye on the bed for the next couple growing seasons and quickly remove or treat any new plants. As with any invasive plant you are reminded to not allow it to spread from your property, especially into wild areas where it can quickly replace native wildflowers.