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Hardiness: Moderate
Light Needs: High
Plant Structure: Stem
Family: Saururaceae
Genus: Saururus
Region: North America
Location: Southeastern U.S.A.
Size: Individual stem width: 5-15cm (2-6
Growth Rate: Slow
Can Be Grown Emersed: Yes


Saururus cernuus, also known as lizard's tail, is a native of the southeastern United States where it grows in shallow water along ditches, ponds, swamps, and streams. It is rarely found fully submersed in the wild. Long popularized by Dutch aquarists, this herbaceous bog plant is rather common in the trade if one knows where to look. Although rarely sold through aquarium plant venues, it is a staple in pond and water garden stores.

S. cernuus is relatively easy to grow, making only basic demands on the hobbyist to thrive. Lighting should be intense and CO2 should be injected at a steady rate for maximum growth and largest foliage. Additional nitrate, phosphate, and micronutrients added via the water column all enhance the health and vigor of S. cernuus, although it is hardy enough to do well without. Because of its slow growth, lizard's tail has a tendency to develop spot algae on the leaves. This problem can easily be remedied however by the maintenance of high phosphate levels. Although a bit problematic as a submersed plant, S. cernuus is extremely easy to grow as an emersed plant along the edges of ponds.

This slow growing stem plant grows upright, easily breaking the water's surface if allowed to do so. It does not produce much of a root system. Since this plant does not willingly produce side shoots or runners in submersed culture, propagation must be done by cutting the stems into pieces and allowing them to float where they will soon form new plantlets. Pruning is done best by cutting and replanting the tops. To make a Dutch street with this plant, prune and plant tops at progressively shorter lengths from back to front.

S. cernuus was once very popular in Dutch style layouts due to its slower growth habit and adjustable height. Along with Lobelia cardinalis, this stem plant was one of the most popularly used in so called Dutch or Leiden streets where its large, heart shaped leaves formed an excellent contrast with neighboring plants. This plant is also popularly featured in 'nature' layouts, to provide contrast to fine-leaved Eleocharis sp.

Photo #1 submersed: US and International Copyright 2004 by Tula Top All Rights Reserved.

Photo #2 emersed: US and International Copyright 2004 by Carlos Sanchez All Rights Reserved.

Photo #3 emersed in habitat: US and International Copyright 2004 by Ghazanfar Ghori All Rights Reserved.