Plants

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CoontaiI (Ceratophyllum demersum)

Coontail illustration Coontail photo

Common name: Hornwort.

Location: Clear-to-murky water up to 20 feet deep.

Description: Grows underwater with no roots; upper leaves may reach the surface; central hollow stem has stiff, dark-green leaves; plants may be long and sparse, but are often bushy near the tip, giving the plant a "coontail" or "Christmas tree" appearance.

Hints to identify: Often confused with watermilfoil, but coontail leaves are spiny and forked rather than feather-like.

Importance of plant: Many waterfowl species eat the shoots; it provides cover for young bluegills, perch, largemouth bass, and northern pike; supports insects that fish and ducklings eat. However, when growing densely, commonly causes nuisance conditions along shorelines.

Management strategy: See DNR regulations. Coontail is important to young fish, so remove as little as possible. Use cutting or raking to reduce the amount of plants. Remove all plant fragments from the water because they can regenerate into new plants. Herbicide control can be effective.