Lizard's Tail Saururus cernuus

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
swamp lily


Commonly known as lizard's tail, this plant is characterized by its heart-shaped, shiny green leaves which grow on a stem that can bend or droop, giving the appearance that it's nodding or "cernuus," hence the name. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stem, creating an attractive textural effect. The key feature of the lizard's tail, however, is its unique flower spike. The spike, often called an inflorescence, is a tapered structure that bears numerous small, white, and fragrant flowers. These flowers are densely packed on the stalk and give the impression of a feathery tail, reminiscent of a lizard's, particularly when they droop gracefully over the side of its growing area. In summertime, lizard's tail blooms enthusiastically, with the sweet-scented flowers attracting a range of pollinators. After flowering, small green fruits may develop. Lizard's tail has a bushy and spreading habit, often forming dense colonies that provide a lush, green backdrop in its natural wetland habitats. The plant is well-suited to water gardens or boggy areas due to its preference for moist to wet soils. The combination of heart-shaped leaves and the distinctive flower spikes makes the lizard's tail a charming addition to any suitable garden setting.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Lizard's Tail, Swamp Lily, Water Dragon, Breastweed

    • Common names

      Saururus lindheimeri, Saururus triqueter, Saururus loureiroanus.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Wildlife attraction: Saururus cernuus, commonly known as lizard's tail, attracts beneficial insects and wildlife to the garden, including pollinators like bees and butterflies, enhancing biodiversity.
    • Water garden aesthetics: Being a semi-aquatic plant, lizard's tail adds visual interest and natural beauty to water gardens, ponds, and bog gardens with its heart-shaped leaves and drooping white flower spikes.
    • Erosion control: Lizard's tail can be used along water bodies to stabilize soil and prevent erosion with its root system, which holds soil in place and reduces sediment runoff.
    • Shade tolerance: This plant thrives in shady conditions where other plants may struggle, making it suitable for planting in wooded areas or shaded wetlands.
    • Low maintenance: Lizard's tail is a hardy plant that requires minimal care once established, making it an excellent choice for gardeners seeking low-maintenance landscaping options.
    • Wet soil tolerance: Lizard's tail is well-suited for areas with poor drainage or consistently wet soils, providing a viable landscaping solution for otherwise problematic wet areas.
    • Native plant gardening: As a native North American species, incorporating lizard's tail into gardens can contribute to the support of local ecosystems and the conservation of native plant species.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Diuretic: Traditionally used to promote the flow of urine.
    • Antirheumatic: Employed in folk medicine to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatism.
    • Antipyretic: Used to reduce fever.
    • Carminative: May help in relieving flatulence.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus) can be used in floral arrangements for its unique, drooping, white flower spikes, adding a distinct texture and visual interest.
    • This plant's dense foliage provides excellent cover and habitat for small aquatic wildlife such as frogs and fish in pond or wetland settings.
    • Lizard’s tail is suitable for water gardens as a natural way to stabilize pond edges and stream banks, thus preventing soil erosion.
    • The plant can be used in educational settings, such as biology classes or botanical studies, to illustrate wetland plant characteristics and adaptation strategies.
    • Lizard’s tail can be incorporated into rain gardens, which are designed to absorb rainwater runoff and protect water quality in nearby bodies of water.
    • As a rapidly spreading plant, it can be utilized for filling in large, wet, shady areas where other plants may struggle to thrive.
    • The fragrant flowers of the Lizard’s tail can be used to add a subtle, sweet scent to outdoor sitting areas near ponds or streams.
    • For natural dyeing purposes, parts of the plant might be used to create yellow-green hues, although this is not a common practice.
    • In landscape design with a focus on native plants, Lizard’s tail can be incorporated to create an authentic North American wetland aesthetic.
    • The plant's distinctive foliage and flowers can serve as inspiration for artists and designers seeking organic shapes and structures in their work.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Lizard's Tail is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Lizard's Tail is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Purity: Saururus cernuus, commonly known as lizard's tail, often grows in aquatic settings, which are traditionally associated with cleansing and purification. Its white, tail-like flower spikes can symbolize purity and innocence.
    • Peace: The calming presence of lizard's tail, with its heart-shaped leaves and gently arching stems, can be interpreted as a symbol of tranquility and peace.
    • Healing: Historically used in various medicinal practices, lizard's tail might also represent healing, both physical and emotional.

Every 2-3 days
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring to summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Lizard's Tail should be kept consistently moist, as it naturally grows in wetlands and boggy areas. It's best to water the plant thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes, ensuring deep moisture penetration, typically two to three times a week depending on the climate and soil drainage. During the growing season, ensure that the plant receives approximately one gallon of water per week but adjust based on rainfall and temperature. During the winter months when the plant is not actively growing, watering frequency should be reduced.

  • sunLight

    Lizard's Tail prefers bright, indirect light or dappled sunlight to thrive. It can tolerate some direct sun in cooler climates, but in hotter regions, protection from intense afternoon sun is crucial to prevent leaf burn. Ideally, place it in a spot where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade for optimal growth conditions.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Lizard's Tail requires warm temperatures and fares well in an environment that maintains a temperature between 60°F and 75°F. It can survive minimally at temperatures as low as 50°F but should not be subjected to freezing conditions due to its sensitivity to cold. The ideal temperature range supports its natural growth cycle and keeps it healthy.

  • scissorsPruning

    Lizard's Tail should be pruned to remove dead or yellowing leaves and to shape the plant, promoting a pleasing aesthetic and healthy growth. Pruning is usually done in the spring before the new growth starts. Cut back old stems to encourage bushier growth, and remove flower spikes after blooming if desired. Always use clean, sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    For Lizard's Tail, the best soil mix is well-draining yet moisture-retentive, such as a blend of loam, peat, and sand. A soil pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is ideal to support healthy growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Lizard's Tail typically does not require frequent repotting; it should be done every 2-3 years to refresh the soil or if the plant has outgrown its current container.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Lizard's Tail thrives in high humidity environments, ideally above 60%. It's naturally a wetland plant, so it prefers moist air similar to its native habitat.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep Lizard's Tail in bright indirect light, maintain high humidity, and ensure soil stays moist.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Lizard's Tail in partial shade, keep soil moist, and protect from strong winds.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life cycle of Saururus cernuus, commonly known as the lizard's tail, begins with seed germination, typically occurring in moist soil or shallow water along streambanks or swamp edges. Once germinated, the seedling develops into a mature plant with heart-shaped leaves and a distinctive, curved spike of small, white flowers that resemble a lizard's tail, which blooms in late spring to summer. After pollination, likely facilitated by insects, the plant produces fruits that are small, fleshy berries containing seeds. These seeds are dispersed by water or possibly by wildlife that may feed on the fruit. The perennial root system of the lizard's tail allows it to survive through winter dormancy, regrowing its stems and leaves when conditions become favorable in spring. The plant can also propagate vegetatively through rhizomes, which spread to form colonies in its preferred wetland habitat.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • The most popular method for propagating Lizard's Tail (Saururus cernuus) is through division. Typically, the best time for division is in the spring when the plant is starting to emerge from dormancy and new growth is apparent. To propagate by division, you would carefully lift the parent plant from the ground, making sure to get a sizeable portion of the root system. The root clump can then be gently separated into smaller sections, each with their own roots and shoots. These sections can be immediately replanted at the same depth they were growing originally, spaced approximately 12 inches (30 centimeters) apart to allow for growth and spread. It’s important to keep the newly planted divisions well-watered until they are established and showing signs of new growth.