Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Lizard's-tail - Saururus cernuus   L.
Members of Saururaceae:
Only member of Saururus in NC.
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Section 4 » Order Piperales » Family Saururaceae
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AuthorL.
DistributionFound across the entire Coastal Plain and most of the Piedmont, but of spotty occurrence in the westernmost counties near the foothills; only a few records for the Mountains.

This species is an Eastern one, found widely from southeastern Canada south to the Gulf Coast and west to central TX. However, it is scarce in the Appalachian mountain counties.
AbundanceVery common across all of the Coastal Plain and eastern half of the Piedmont. Generally uncommon in the western portions of the Piedmont, and possibly absent in a few counites there. Casual or very rare in the Mountains.
HabitatThis has a wide array of wetland habitats, but most are shaded to partly shaded. It favors depressions in floodplains, openings in swamps, wet spots and pools in bottomlands, wet places along creeks, beaver ponds and other semi-shaded ponds, and in some marshes.
See also Habitat Account for General Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
PhenologyBlooms from May into September, and fruits from August into November.
IdentificationThis is a familiar wetland species seen frequently by most biologists working in swamps and bottomlands. It has fairly large, alternate heart-shaped leaves that have a dark green color, on a stem that reaches 1.5-2 feet high. The entire leaves have a cordate base, are 4-5 inches long, and about 3 inches wide, with a sharply acute tip. The inflorescence, coming off a lower node, is generally just one or two per plant, consisting of a very dense raceme of tiny white flowers in a narrow spire, with a distinctly drooping tip (or top half). This inflorescence averages about 6 inches long, but less than 1 inch wide. This species always grows in dense stands, that may contain hundreds or a few thousands of plants; you never see just a single plant by itself. Though there are a number of other wetland plants with triangular/cordate leaves, such as some Sagittaria species and Peltandra virginica, these do not have evenly rounded bases to the leaves, as opposed to squared off or sagittate lobes at the base. The drooping "white test-tube" inflorescence also cannot be confused with other species. (Some Persicaria species have drooping white inflorescences, but these are quite slender and not overly densely flowered, nor do they have cordate leaves.)
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Water-dragon is seldom used
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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