(Saurus cernuus) Lizard's-tail family

Flowers - Fragrant, very small, white, lacking a perianth,

bracted, densely crowded on peduncled, slender spikes 4 to 6 in.

long and nodding at the tip. Stamens 6 to 8, the filaments white;

carpels 3 or 4, united at base, dangling. Stem: 2 to 5 ft. high,

jointed, sparingly branched, leafy. Leaves: Heart-shaped,

palmately ribbed, dark green, thin, on stout petioles.

Preferred Habitat - Swamps, shallow water.

Flowering Season - June-August.

Distribution - Southern New England to the Gulf, westward to

Minnesota and Texas.

The fragrance arising from these curious, drooping, tail-like

spikes of flowers, where they grow in numbers, must lure their

insect friends as it does us, since no showy petals or sepals

advertise their presence. Nevertheless they are what are known as

perfect flowers, each possessing stamens and pistils, the only

truly essential parts, however desirable a gaily colored perianth

may be to blossoms attempting to woo such large land insects as

the bumblebee and butterfly. Since flies, whose color sense is by

no means so acute as their sense of smell, are by far the most

abundant fertilizers of waterside plants, we can see a tendency

in such to suppress their petals, for the flowers to become

minute and massed in series that the little visitors may more

readily transfer pollen from one to another, and to become

fragrant - just what the lizard's tail has done.

LIVERLEAF NOBLE LIVERWORT SQUIRREL CUP LOBELIA facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail