Saururus cernuus

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: lizard's tail 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saururaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Fragrant
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Wet Soil


For water gardens, plant in containers in shallow water to 6” deep for water gardens. For natural ponds, set plants or rhizomes in sandy or muddy pond margins under shallow water or in moist, boggy soils. Best in full sun to part shade, but will flower in full shade. Unrestrained rhizomes will spread to form colonies. Seed may be started in containers.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Saururus cernuus, commonly called Lizard’s tail or water-dragon, is a rhizomatous, deciduous, marginal aquatic perennial that typically grows to 2-4’ tall in the wild. In cultivation in water gardens, it more typically grows 12-24” tall. It is native to Ontario, Quebec and southern New England south to Florida and Texas. In Missouri, it is commonly found in swampy woods, sloughs, spring branches and slow-moving streams south of the Missouri River (Steyermark). Features heart-shaped leaves (3-6” long) on erect, branching, somewhat zig-zag stems and tiny fragrant white flowers packed into slender, tapered, spike-like racemes (4-12” long) that droop at the tips. Blooms June to September. The flowers give way to small green warty fruits. The nodding flower/fruit spikes purportedly resemble lizards’ tails, hence the common name. The flowers, leaves and roots of this plant have a generally pleasant citrus aroma.

Genus name comes from the Greek words sauros meaning a lizard and oura meaning a tail from the dense spicate inflorescence.

Specific epithet means drooping or nodding.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Water or bog gardens. Pond edges. Tubs. Ornamental pools.