Who am I, and am I plotting to take over the world?

By Amy Redfield

A lovely, small plant with darling white flowers has made its home in my native border. I suspect it came in as a give-away at a Wild Ones meeting, but cannot recall what it is! It has definitely made itself at home, spreading with abandon. I’d love to have a name to call it when I talk to it, other than George, my placeholder name. I’d also love to know if others have noted its tendencies to take over, and if that instinct is easily tamed.

Amy's mystery plant


5 thoughts on “Who am I, and am I plotting to take over the world?

  1. Amy: I don’t know what the name is, but I don’t believe it is a native and I know it is horribly invasive. I have been in my house for almost 19 years and I have been fighting this stuff ever since. It is not unattractive, but it is hard to get rid of and the foliage smells bad (to me anyway) when you pull it out. It really spreads, so if this is the only place you have it, I would advise you to zap that plant with vinegar or something and make it go away. It will take over the world or at least your flower bed! I have seen this plant for sale at that pond store on Watson just east/north of the intersection with Laclede Station. Maybe you could call them and describe it to them and they could tell you what it is. They used to sell it as a pond plant. Hope this helps.

  2. I believe it’s called houtounia and I second Sue’s advice. Another feature — when you pull it the root snaps off and it has a very distinctive odor. Hence, herbicide or other means of eradication.

  3. Oh my gosh! Thanks soooo much! It is adorable, but I just do not tolerate invasive. I really appreciate your input!

    I don’t use chemicals (except on poison ivy), so I’ll water the bed really well, let it sit a day, and then try pulling them gently, and mulch to heck out of it. *fingers crossed*

    • I have been trying to eradicate it in a garden at work. After a year or so of pulling and rounduping (is that a word?). I have finally resorted to digging as deep as I can to remove….keeping a weekly watch for more sprouts and digging there as deeply as possible. This spring I only saw a few and again dug deeply trying to get as much root as possible…..am still waiting for the next invasion but they are fewer and farther between.

  4. Maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on poor George (AKA houttuynia cordata). He is a valued herb in traditional Chinese medicine and is used in Japan as a detoxifying cleanser (tea) and treatment for numerous health problems from constipation to bronchitis and urinary infections. (See: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/benefits-of/dokudami)
    Also, a few of George’s leaves fried in tempura batter are a great and tasty spring herb treat. (A FEW- like 2-3 leaves, not a plateful!)
    Here in Japan, George (dokudami) forms a sparse but cheerful ground cover. I never had much luck getting him to spread in the clay soils of the Midwest, but he grows well in Japan’s sandy soil, and I can easily pull him up where I don’t want him. He will also gladly grow in water gardens. If you are worried that George will become a thug, you can confine him in a rock garden or a clay pot, as one does with mint. You probably Don’t want him in your flower garden, but he is just too cute and useful to do away with in areas where he can be controlled.

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