Saururus cernuus (lizard's tail, water-dragon, dragon's tail, swamp root) is a medicinal and ornamental plant native to eastern North America. It grows in wet areas or shallow water, and can be up to about a meter tall. The native range covers much of the eastern United States, as far west as eastern Texas and Kansas, south to Florida, and north to Michigan and New York state, slightly into Ontario. It is an obligate wetland plant, able to grow in inundated, saturated soils.
|S. cernuus, foliage and inflorescence|
Saururus cernuus is a herbaceous perennial that gets its name from the white flowers that bloom in the summer months. Flowers usually grow to be 6 to 8 inches long. After the flowers reach maturity the white flowers turn brown, giving the plant its namesake, lizard's tail. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, arrow-shaped, or lance-shaped, and are arranged alternately on the stem. When the leaves are crushed they release a citrus or sassafras aroma.
Its medicinal properties have been used to treat swelling in the body. Cherokee and Chocktaw native Americans mashed up S. cernuus roots as a poultice, and applied the plant to soothe inflammation of the breasts and back. The Seminoles used the plant as an antirheumatic, as well as a way to soothe fevers and body aches.
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