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Marcus, Joseph A.
Saururus cernuus L.
Lizard's tail, Lizard's-tail, Breast weed, Water dragon
Saururaceae (Lizard's-Tail Family)
USDA Symbol: sace
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
An upright, hairy perennial, growing to 4 ft. in height. Slender, nodding, solitary spikes of tiny, white flowers occur opposite a leaf. Leaves are lance-shaped to nearly triangular with a cordate base. Many tiny, fragrant, white flowers are on a slender, tapering, stalked spike with a drooping tip.
This is a mostly southern species of shaded marshes and stream margins. The common name and the genus name, from the Greek sauros (lizard) and oura (tail), depict the shape of the drooping flower cluster.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug
, WV Canada: ON Native Distribution:
S. New England to MI
s. to FL
& TX Native Habitat:
Still water Wet lowlands; stream & lake edges
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil Description: Wet soils. Mud.
Conditions Comments: The common name refers to the long, finger-like flowers that appear during the summer months. Crushed foliage has a pleasant, sassafras aroma. Lizard tail is a great spreading groundcover for moist soils, shallow water, and containers. Good for wetland gardens and habitat. Colonizes large areas. Can withstand saturated soils of up to 4 in. inundation.
Water garden, Bog or pond area Use Wildlife:
Valued by wood ducks. Use Medicinal:
Also called breast weed,
as it was used to treat inflammation of the breasts and other portions of the body. (Lamb/Rhynard) Warning:
The young shoots and leaves provide forage for cattle and sheep, but when overeaten this plant may be toxic. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals. Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds Deer Resistant:
PropagationPropagation Material: Root Division
Description: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Wildflower Center Seed BankLBJWC-1078
Collected 2007-08-21 in Marion County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-12
Research By: TWC Staff