LIZARD'S TAIL [LIZARD'STAIL, WATERDRAGON]
(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.
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Next: SPRING BEAUTY CLAYTONIA
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