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Lizard's Tail

Saururus cernuus


Lizard’s tail is a perennial plant that has a hairy erect stem with few or no branches and can grow up to 4 feet tall. Leaves are on short petiole, lace to heart-shaped 2 to 5 inches long by 1 to 3 inches wide), alternate with veins that converge toward the base. Flowers are borne on a long hairy stem, opposite the uppermost leaf. The flowering structure consists of a spike of many small whitish flowers that forms an arching, tail-like shape. As the greenish seeds develop, the “tail” takes on a wrinkled appearance and hence the common name. Lizard’s tail has a distinctive orange like-smell. Lizard’s tail forms colonies from spreading rhizomes.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aqauatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Lizard’s tail has no known direct food value to wildlife.