Saururus cernuus

Lizard's tail

Also known as:

Swamp lily, mouse's ear

Family: Saururaceae

Origin: North America

Lizard's Tail leaves and flowers close up.
Lizard's tail can be controlled with a foliar herbicide but care must be taken to kill rhizomes as well. It prevents the recreational use of ponds.
Photo credit: V. Ramey, University of Florida, Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest
  • Whole region — Sustained control

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Perennial, freshwater, emergent, aquatic herb. Leaves are arrowhead- or heart-shaped. Flowers are white and borne in spikes arching above foliage. Nutlets are borne in string and resemble a lizard’s tail.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell lizard's tail within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant lizard's tail within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any lizard's tail on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Wetlands, marshes, swamps streams, lake margins.


Vegetative spread from rhizomes, stem fragments, dispersed by water movement.

Impact on environment

Dominates herb layer in wetlands, marshes, swamps, streams and lake edges. Potential to shade out submerged species.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: All parts.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Dense mat of Lizard's Tail in flower.
Lizard's tail forms dense mats on the surface of ponds and slow moving water bodies. Shades out the water column causing darkness.
Photo credit: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database USDA SCS. 1991. Southern wetland flora Field office guide to plant species
Two Lizard's Tail flowers and new leaves.
Lizard's tail is an aquatic herb that emerges above the water surface. Flowers are white and borne on spikes above the leaves.
Lizard's Tail with flowers of different stages.
Seeds are called nutlets and form on a long string that look like a lizard's tail. Nutlets are spread by water.
Hand holding Lizard's Tail nutlet string.
Lizard's tail forms underground rhizomes and grow through pond soft sediments. Plants can spread by nutlets or rhizome pieces.