Lizard's tail

Saururus cernuus
Family: Saururaceae

Natural History
Leaves and inflorescence of lizard's tail
Photo credit: SFRC, University of Florida

Lizard's tail, also called water-dragon, is named for the long, slender, arching floral spikes that mature into clusters of brown capsules and resemble the tail of a lizard.

The plants reproduce by runners and often grow in clumps or thick stands. They commonly form colonies that may be found in a variety of aquatic systems due to a wide tolerance of pH levels.

Alkaloids contained within the plant may be extracted for medicinal purposes.

Lizard's tail is native to much of the eastern United States. It has a wide distribution from southern Canada, Michigan, and Minnesota to as far south as central Florida.


Identifying Characteristics

Habitat: Lizard's tail grows in both fresh and brackish water and is common in shallow water or along the moist shores of swamps and lakes.
Size/Form: Lizard's tail is a hardy, aquatic perennial that grows in thick stands and reaches 1½' to 2' tall.
Leaves: The leaves are simple, alternately arranged, and have an arrowhead or heart shape with rounded lobes. They grow from 4" to 6" long and are dark green in color. The leaf bases clasp around the hairy stem of the plant.
Flowers: Flowers are white or yellowish-white and dangle in long, slender, arching spikes. They bloom from June through September.
Fruit: Mature fruits form long, clusters of brown capsules that resemble the tail of a lizard.



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