Lizard's Tail

Saururus cernuus

Oklahoma Biological Survey

Lizard's Tail is a plant usually seen in marshes, although it also grows along the edges of ponds and streams.

Lizard's Tail gets its name from its flower stalk, which somewhat resembles a lizard's tail. Many tiny white flowers make up a raceme. A raceme is a group of flowers in a long narrow column. Lizard's Tail racemes grow up to six inches long, and droop from a stalk which is three inches long.

Lizard's Tail leaves are heart-shaped, about five inches long, and dark green.

This plant can grow up to five feet tall, but much of the plant will be underwater.

Lizard's Tail has hairy stems above the water line, but it also has stems you can't see. These stems are called rhizomes, and they aren't just underwater, they're also under the mud. Rhizomes can grow sideways and send up new plants.

Huntley Meadows Park

Because Lizard's Tail has rhizomes, it can be seen in dense colonies. A Lizard's Tail colony is many plants close together, some of which grow from the same rhizomes. Sometimes this makes it hard for other plants to grow in the same area.

Lizard's Tail is a perennial, so even though the parts of the plant you can see die in the Winter, the rhizomes stay alive and send up new plants in the Spring.

Lizard's Tail blooms from June to September.

Mark Moran

Lizard's Tail is a favorite food of turtles, which eat the leaves. Bees and flies visit flowers for nectar.

Lizard's Tail is an important plant as cover and shelter, and as a place for egg-laying. Many fish, frogs, salamanders, crayfish, turtles, snakes, and aquatic insects hide among the stems underwater. Above the water line, insects and spiders crawl around on the stems and leaves. Dragonflies, frogs, salamanders, and many other animals will lay eggs on, around, or inside Lizard's Tail stems. Muskrats, Beaver, Raccoons, ducks, geese, and other larger animals can move around a pond or marsh without being seen if there is a lot of Lizard's Tail.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Common Snapping Turtle Eating Lizard's Tail
Video
Mark Moran
Raccoon Using Lizard's Tail as Cover
Video
Phil Heine
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

Common Snapping Turtle

Common Yellowthroat

Common Cattail

Honey Bee Po

Eastern Painted Turtle

Green Darner

Yellow Pond Lily

Golden Northern Bumble Bee Po

Honey Bee

Muskrat

Common Duckweed

Dodder Pa

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Northern Water Snake

Common Reed

Stagnant Pond Snail

Eastern Painted Turtle

Pickerelweed

Crane Fly

Spotted Salamander

Long-leaf Pondweed

Stagnant Pond Snail

Green Algae

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Hydrilla

Large Diving Beetle

American Sycamore

Raccoon

Black Willow

Wood Duck

Spotted Jewelweed

Canada Goose

Tussock Sedge

Crayfish

Dodder

Bluegill

Greater Bladderwort

Tesselated Darter

Marsh Bulrush

Freshwater Leech

Arrow Arum

Euglena

Swamp Rose Mallow

Southern Leopard Frog

Beaver

Eastern Mosquitofish

Relationship to Humans:

Lizard's Tail is sometimes considered a weed when it seems to "take over" a pond or stream. However, like most water plants, Lizard's Tail does very well some years, then makes way for other plants in later years. It is very valuable to wildlife, such as frogs, which help control insects and other pests.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Magnoliopsida
ORDER
Piperales
FAMILY
Saururaceae
GENUS
Saururus
SPECIES
Saururus cernuus

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