Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Lizard's Tail: Saururus cernuus

Weed Description:  A perennial with rhizomes that primarily occurs along the edges of ponds or in swamps and marshes.   Lizard's tail has distinctive heart-shaped leaves and a curved or drooping raceme with many white, inconspicuous flowers.
Leaves: Heart-shaped, arranged alternately along the stem, reaching as much as 5 inches in length.  The leaves are almost waxy in appearance and dark green in color on the upper surfaces.

Stems: Erect, reaching 3 feet in height, usually hairy.

Roots:  Rhizomes and a fibrous root system.

Flowers:  A curved or drooping raceme that ranges from 4 to 8 inches in length and is approximately 1/2 inch in width.  These racemes occur on flower stalks (peduncles) that may reach 3 inches in length.  Individual flowers within the raceme are inconspicuous and white in color, with no distinctive sepals or petals.

Fruit:  A capsule.

Identifying Characteristics:   Emersed, aquatic perennials with rhizomes and drooping racemes that primarily occur in swamps, marshes, or around the edges of ponds.  The drooping racemes of lizard's tail may lead to misidentification of this weed as one of the aquatic smartweeds, such as nodding smartweed (Polygonum lapathifolium), however all of the smartweeds have a thin membranous sheath (ocrea) that encircles the stem unlike lizard's tail.