Coontail (Cerstophyllum demersum), a Native Aquatic Plant of New Jersey Waterways
Coontail sometimes called 'Hornwort' is a common, dark green, submerged perennial aquatic plant (Fig. 1). While it lacks true roots, Coontail may be loosely anchored to the bottom by specialized, finely divided, buried or free-floating stems (rhizoids). The fan-shaped leaves are relatively stiff and best observed in the water. They are arranged in whorls of five or more, with many forks and small teeth along the edge or midrib giving the plants a rough feel. The plants grow long and sparse and may reach lengths over 4.6 m (15 feet) but are often bushy near the tips giving the plant a 'raccoon tail' or 'Christmas tree' like appearance. They are often confused with water milfoil (Myriophyllum spp.) or fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana), but Coontail leaves are spiny and forked rather than featherlike. Coontail’s flowers are very small and rarely seen. Reproduction is either by seed or by vegetative growth of plant fragments.