Chameleon Plant
Houttuynia cordata (Thunb.)
Saururus (Lizard's Tail) Family.

Chameleon Plant is a medium-sized herbaceous ground cover. It's height is usually no more than 12 inches tall and spreading vigorously underground by fleshy rhizomes. Its preferred habitat is domestic gardens and moist places along ditches, ponds, and slow moving streams. Distribution in the Escambia region is occasional.

full sun to partial shade; best range of bright foliage coloration occurs in full sun to partial sun, but overall vigor is often best in partial shade, where the foliage color fades to greens and maroons

The leaves may be plain or variegated, wide leaf margins of red, bronze, cream, and yellow that contrast well with the the green leaf blade. The leaves are alternate on the upright stems, with a cordate base to about 3 inches long. The foliage has a pungent diesel oil smell when mown, cut or crushed. The foliage stems die back to the ground with a hard freeze.

The flowers are white bracts that may be barely noticeable due to their sparse nature. Each is relatively inconspicuous. Flowers occur in June and July and are often lost amongst the showy leaf variegation.

Fruit is usually insignificant as the major growth is from root sprouts.

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