Coontail Ceratophyllum demersum

Rootless mass of floating and submerged oval-shaped leaves with no roots. Dense spiked flowers. Brownish seeds on slender stalks.

  • English Name: Coontail
  • Latin Name: Ceratophyllum demersum
  • Propagate: Perennial
  • How to ID: Dense, olive-green mass of stiff, whorled, forked leaves with small 'teeth' on the edges
  • Dangers: Creation of scummy appearance, limiting fishing access and stunting fish
  • States Effected: Common throughout the U.S
  • Control Methods: Removal via Seining or racking will give you immediate control. Chemical are also effective, but can cause Oxygen depletion from decaying biomass. The Use of a Benthic Barrier is also very effective in killing Coontail
Coontail Pond Weed

The Nuisance Power of American Pond weed

If you were a water weed, you would not want Coontail weeds as your neighbors. They are decent weeds, sure, with lots of stiff, olive-green leaves growing in whorls around lots of small stems that in turn branch off larger stems. Their flowers are not bad looking either. They are rootless and grow below the water surface, they are free to roam within the water column, but can attach to lake floor with modified leaves. Their scientific name is a mouthful - Ceratophyllum Demersum. But, by weeds standards, they have a lovely everyday name. The name Coontail is the short form of "raccoon tail", which is how a stem full of this weed looks like. The Coontail Weed also looks like a milfoil, except that its leaves are longer and more reminiscent of a raccoon's tail than a feather, hence the more modern name.

The problem is that Coontail weeds also create a scummy appearance in the water, which provokes humans to want to clear them sooner than other weeds. Any other weed that is unfortunate to be in the neighborhood suffers as a consequence.

Uses and Danger of Coontail

The usual way of getting rid of Coontail weed is to physically remove them from water using rakes or other implement. But the physical approach of clearing away Coontail weeds has limitations. It never eradicates the weed totally because every remaining fragment grows into a new plant.

The recommended method is the use of herbicides. There are various types of herbicides in the market that can do the job. The limitations here is that the herbicides lead to lake full of algae. This happens because plant life competes for phosphorus, if the plants are killed then algae takes over. The result is a blue green algae that is dangerously toxic causing the lake unusable.

The biological option of using Grass Carps is also quite effective, but only in waters where there are no other types of weeds. Grass Carp will eat Coontail but only if there are no other more palatable weeds to choose from.

Bottom Screening or Benthic Barrier like the Lake Bottom Blanket is very effective on all subsurface weeds and has already been used in over 400 lakes in over 29 states has been approved for use by the DNR's and DEP's of California, Nevada, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington. It kills 100% of the weeds in about three weeks, the only weed control product so far with such a kill rate.