Native to swamps and shallow water of eastern North America, this perennial emergent water plant is also known as water dragon and swamp lily.  It is a member of the Saururaceae family that also inclues chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata).  With  a rhizomatous root system, the plants grow 2-4′ tall in the wild but 1-2′ tall when cultivated, and have somewhat zig-zag stems and bright green leaves 3-6″ long.  The leaves  are  lance-shaped to trianglar with heart shaped bases, and are palmately veined.  From late spring through summer, long narrow racemes appear carrying small white fragrant flowers.  The racemes have drooping tips and are usually 4-6″ long but can reach up to 12″ in length.  The small green warty fruits capusles  appear from late summer to fall.  The flowers, leaves, and roots have a sassafrass or citrus aroma.  Lizard’s tail is a good choice for a water garden planted in containers where it will rapidly form a colony.  The genus name, Saururus, comes from the Greek words sauros meaning lizard and oura meaning tail, and refers to the resemblance of the inflorescence to a lizard’s tail.  The specific epithet, cernuus, is the Latin word meaning inclined forward and refers to the droop of the inflorescence.  

Type: Deciduous perennial emergent water plant

Bloom: Racemes of small white fragrant flowers from late spring through summer

Size: 1-2′ in cultivation, 2-4′ in the wild

Light: Full sun to some shade

Soil: Average, wet

Hardiness: Zones 3-9

Care: Plant in containers in 6″ of water

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, division

Companion Plants: Blue flag, American lotus, Carolina ponyfoot

Outstanding Selections: None available

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen