Perennial aromatic herbs, usually with rhizomes and creeping stolons. Stems with pronounced joints. Leaves alternate or basal, simple; stipules sheathing and partly fused to the leaf stalk. Flowers bisexual, asymmetric, in terminal spikes or opposite the leaves, often with petal-like bracts at the base of the spike reminiscent of Cornus. Petals and sepals absent. Stamens 3, 4, 6 or occasionally 8, the bases often fused to the carpels. Carpels 3-5. Ovary superior or inferior, immersed in the flower cluster stalk or fused to form a capsule.
Related to the Piperaceae but also with similarities to the Polygonaceae. Saururus cernuus L., Water Dragon, from E North America is sometimes available as a moist area plant.
Saururus chinensis (Lour.) Baill. and Houttuynia species are used medicinally and the latter also for food.
Creeping plants that are aromatic when crushed; stems with thickened joints; petal-like bracts; tail-like flower spikes.
4 genera and 6 species of damp or aquatic habitats from E Asia and SE North America.
Source: (1997). Saururaceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.