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Family Ceratophyllaceae
Ceratophyllum demersum L.
Jin yu zao shu

Scientific names Common names
Ceratophyllum demersum L.       Arigma (Tagalog)
Ceratophyllum demersum var. commune A.Gray       Common coontail (Engl.)
Dichotophyllum demersum (L.) Moench  Cool water brush (Engl.)
Accepted Infraspecifics (6) Coontail (Engl.)
Ceratophyllum demersum var. aoiculatum (Cham.) Asch.       Coon's tail (Engl.)
Ceratophyllum demersum var. deemersum    Hornwort (Engl.)
Ceratophyllum demersum var. inerme J.Gay ex Radcl.-Sm.       Rigid hornwort (Engl.)
Ceratophyllum demersum f. missionis (Wall. ex Wight & Arn.) Wilm.-Dear    
Ceratophyllum demersum var. platyacanthum (Cham.) Wimm.      
Ceratophyllum demersum var. quadrispinum Makino      
Ceratophyllum demersum is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CAMBODIA: Sara:y ;anndaet, Sara:y kantuy chhkae.
CHINA: Jin yu zao shu, Jin yu zao ke.
INDIA: Ambuchamar, Ambutala, Araka, Hathaparni, Haval, Honaal, Jalaja, Jalakesha,jalakuntala, Jalanchana, Jalamandapi, Jalanili, Jalaprishthaja, Jalashuka, Ka, Karimpayal, Kavara, Manjula, Nasu, Neeti sambraani, Saivala, Saivalah, Salilakundala, Sevar, Shaiwal, Shaiwar, Sheoyala, Sheshana, Shevala, Shivala, Sivara, Souvala.
JAPAN: Marsumo.
JAVA: Gang, Ganggeng.
THAILAND: Sari-khwai, Sarai-phungchado, Sarai-hagma.
VIETNAM: Rong du[oo]i ch[os].

Gen info
- Ceratophyllum demersum is a species of submerged free-floating aquatic plant, with a cosmopolitan distribution, native to all continents except Antarctica.
- Etymology: The genus Ceratophyllum
derives from Greek keras, 'horn" and phyllon, "leaf", referring to the antler-like structure of the leaf branches. The specific epithet demersum derives from Latin demerge, "sink or plunge", alluding to the submerged growth habit of the plant. (4)
- A popular aquarium plant.
- Considered a harmful weed in New Zealand.

An aquatic plant, Ceratophyllum demersum has stems that reach lengths of 1–3 m (3–10 ft), with numerous side shoots making a single specimen appear as a large, bushy mass. Leaves are produced in whorls of six to twelve, each leaf 8–40 mm long, simple, or forked into two to eight thread-like segments edged with spiny teeth; they are stiff and brittle. Monoecious with separate male and female flowers  produced on the same plant. The flowers are small, 2 mm long, with eight or more greenish-brown petals; they are produced in the leaf axils. Fruit is a small nut 4–5 mm long, usually with three spines, two basal and one  apical, 1–12 mm long. Plants with the two basal nut spines very short are sometimes distinguished as Ceratophyllum demersum var. apiculatum (Cham.) Asch., and those with no basal spines sometimes distinguished as Ceratophyllum demersum var. inerme Gay ex Radcl.-Sm. It can form turions: buds that sink to the bottom of the water that stay there during the winter and form new plants in spring.

- Native to the Philippines.
- Native range of the species is Cosmopolitan, native to all continents except Antartica.

- Plant extracts have yielded different classes of phytomolecules such as alkaloids, cardiac glycoside, glycosides, tannins, and flavonoids.
- Proximate analysis (% of dry weight) includes dry matter (6.9%), crude protein (15.8), ash (25.3), crude fat (3.0), crude fiber (20.7), nitrogen free extract (35.2). (3)
- Steam distillation of leaves yielded 0.15% essential oil. Main components include
2-Methylpropanoic acid 3-hydroxy- 2,4,4-trimethylpentyl ester (>15%), 2-methylpropanoic acid 2,2-dimethyl-1-(2-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)propyl ester (>3%), β-ionone-5,6-epoxide (>7%), toluene (>6%), hexanal (>5%) and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid di(2-methylpropyl) ester (>5%). (3)
- HPLC-QTOF-MS/MS analysis of 70% methanol extract identified 80 compounds, including 8 organic acids, 11 phenolic acids, 25 flavonoids, 21 fatty acids, and 15 others. (see study below) (6)
- Preliminary phytochemical screening of ethanol extracts yielded alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, saponins, sterols, tannins, and reducing sugars. (see study below) (7)
- GC and GC-MS study evaluated leaves from Ceratophyllum demersum and Vallisneria spiralis for essential oil. C. demersum had a yield of 0.15%. About 50 constituents were identified, representing 87% of total oils. Main components were basically the same for the two plants, with major components of 2-Methylpropanoic acid 3-hydroxy-2,4,4-trimethylpentyl ester (>15%), 2-methylpropanoic acid 2,2-dimethyl-1-(2-hydroxy-1-methylethyl)propyl ester (>3%), β-ionone-5,6-epoxide (>7%), toluene (>6%), hexanal (>5%) and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid di(2-methylpropyl) ester (>5%) . (12)

- Studies have suggested antioxidant properties, anti-diarrheal, wound healing, phytoremediative,
anticancer, α-glucosidase inhibitory, analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory properties.

Parts used
Leaves, juice, whole plant parts.


- Leaves are edible.

- Plant juice mixed with sesamum oil used for discolored skin. Plant decoction drank for biliousness and ulcers.
- In Indian medicine, used for jaundice, scorpion stings, as antipyretic and antimalarial. (3)
- In China, used for hemoptysis.
- Whole plant used for treatment of wounds, fever, hemorrhoids, intrinsic hemorrhages, epistaxis,  hyperdipsia, hematemesis. Also used for dizziness, leucorrhea, morbid thirst, rheumatism, spermaturia, venereal disease. Leaf juice used to stop vomiting. (3)

Study evaluated the antioxidant activities of water and methanol extracts of invitro propagated C. demersum. Antioxidant contents (ß-carotene, flavonoid, lycopene, and total phenols), metal chelating, and reducing power were investigated. The water extract was more effective in all activities. Total phenols (76.55 µg/ml) were the highest antioxidant component. IC50 for chelating ferrous ions was  9.24 mg/mL, EC 50 fir reducing power activity was 8.23 mg/mL. Results showed beneficial antioxidant properties and a promising source of therapeutics. (5)
Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction of α-Glucosidase Inhibitors: Study reports an ultrasound-assisted optimized extraction  of α-glucosidase inhibitors from C. demersum. A 70% methanol extract showed lowest IC50 (0.15 mg dried material) for α-glucosidase inhibition, which was lower than acarbose (IC50 0.64 mg DM/ml). Results suggest a potential source of α-glucosidase inhibitors. (see constituents above) (6)
Anticancer / HT-29 Human Colon Cancer Cell Line: Study of C. demersum ethanol extracts exhibited noteworthy antioxidant activity using DPPH, ferric ion reducing power assay and phosphomolybdenum assay. Ethanol extract showed cytoxicity to HT-29 human colon cancer cell line. (see constituents above) (7)
Antidiarrheal / Wound Healing / Whole Plant: Study evaluated methanolic and aqueous extracts of whole plant of Ceratophyllum demersum for antidiarrheal and wound healing potentials using experimental rat models. Both extracts showed significant antidiarrheal activity at doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg in castor oil and magnesium sulfate induced diarrhea in rats in parameters of total number of feces, number of wet feces, % inhibition of defecation and diarrheic drops. In excision wound model, both extracts in 5% w/w simple ointment formulation showed wound healing activities in measures of % wound closure and epithelization time. Results support use of the whole plant in traditional medicine for treatment of wounds and diarrhea. (8)
Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metals / Cadmium: Study evaluated the accumulation and tolerance of C. demersum to different concentrations of Pb+2, Al+3, and Cd+2 during four treatment periods for 16 days. Maximum BCF value of Cd in C. demersum at low concentration was 1295.37 after 12 days of treatment. Results suggest C. dermersum can be considered a hyperaccumulator species for cadmium and suitable for phytoremediation. (9)
Water Purification Effect / Change of Microbial Community: Study evaluated the purification effect of submerged macrophyte C. demersum on still water in cold region and its microbial community change under planting diversity and different aeration treatments. Results showed better water purification effect when plant density of CD was  4.44 g/L with 12 h aeration treatment. Removal rate of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) was 1.23% and 89.27%, respectively. Overall, diversity of microbial community did not increase. Dominant phyla were Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria. Relative abundance of dominant phylum could be increased by proper addition of C. dermesum, but relative abundance of Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes could be reduced by aeration treatment. Compared with effect of TN and TP concentration changes, adding C. demersum and aeration treatment had more significant effect on microbial dominant groups. (10)
Analgesic / Antipyretic / Anti-Inflammatory / Whole Plant: Study evaluated a methanolic extract of whole plant of C. demersum using doses of 250 and 500 mg/kg and acetic acid, Brewer's yeast and carrageenan to induce algesic, pyrexia, and inflammation in Wistar albino rats. The extract showed significant analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory activities. Flavonoids in the ME may be contributory to the activities. (11)
Anti-Leishmanial / Antibacterial / Cytotoxic: Study evaluated phenolic compounds from methanol extract of plant at concentrations of 25, 50, 100, 200, 400, and 800 µg/ml for anti-leishmanial, anticancer, and antibacterial activities. Extract showed maximum inhibition activity against Leishmania donovani at 800 µg/ml concentration. Extract also showed growth inhibition of E. coli (22 mm) and Bacillus cereus (17 mm) and highly effective inhibitory activity of 70.6% on L20B cell line (highly sensitive and specific to polioviruses) at concentration of 800 µg/ml. (13)
Activated Charcoal for Acute Poisonings: Activated charcoal is used to treat many forms of oral poisonings from poisoned foods, medicines, drub overdosing, etc. Study reports on the use of plant waste products and conversion to charcoal by microwave pyrolysis and its use for treatment of acute poisoning. Study showed that with increasing temperature, the area of activated charcoal increases and becomes more porous, which leads to greater absorption of the toxic substance. A higher BET (Brunauer -Emmer-Teller) surface area of 9519 m2/g was achieved when producing activated charcoal at temperature of 650°C. (14)
Phytoremediation / PHE (Potentially Hazardous Elements): PHE are non-biodegradable and accumulate in places like water, soil, and plants to endanger environmental health. Study evaluated PHE accumulation, sediments and C. demersum in a basin with intense hazelnut and rice farming. All PHEs analyzed, except for Cd, displayed a bioconcentration factor (BCF) value of more than 1000, indicating C. demersum is a promising plant for phytoremediation in PHE-polluted ecological systems involving wetlands, and can be employed as indicator species in biological screening studies. (15)
Attenuation of Microbial Induced Deterioration of Cellulose Fibers / Stems and Leaves: Study isolate bacteria and fungi from an infected manuscript dated back to the 8th century kept at the Al-Azhar library in Cairo Egypt. The manuscript material was made from cellulose fibers. Three bacterial species, B. subtilis, B. megaterium, and Streptomyces sp. and five fungal species, A. niger, A. flavus, P citrinum, A. alternata, and A. kilinase were isolated. A methanol extract of stems and leaves showed remarkable inhibition in growth of isolated bacteria and fungi. Treating of modern Rakta papers with C. demersum extracts showed amelioration of physical and mechanical properties of the papers. Resistance against microbial attack of Rakta papers was increases after treatment with C. demersum extract. (16)
Anthelmintic Polyherbal Formulation: Study evaluated the anthelmintic activity of a polyherbal formulation containing Ceratophyllum demersum leaves, T. populnea bar, T. alata bark, C. triloba roots using adult earthworm Pheretima posthuma. Piperazine citrate was used as standard. Results showed anthelmintic activity is measures of paralysis time and time to kill. The ethanolic extract showed higher activity than the aqueous extract. (17)
Antiulcer / Antidiarrheal / Wound Healing: Study showed Ceratophyllum demersum possesses significant antiulcer, antidiarrheal, and wound healing activities, which scientifically support its traditional use for treatment of ulcers, diarrhea, and wound conditions. (18)
Phytoremediation / Removal of Methylene Blue: Study evaluated the ability of aquatic plant Coontail (C. demersum) to remove methylene blue (MB) dye. The removal percentage was up to 96% for 5 days. Results suggest strong potential as a phytoremediation agent to remove dyes from wastewater treatment system. (19)

Plants in the cybermarket.

October 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Ceratophyllm demersum : Hornwort / © future forests / Non-commercial use / click on image or link to go to source page / FutureForests
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ceratophyllum demersum leaves / © Donald Cameron / Non-commercial use / click on image or link to go to source page / image modified / Native Plant Trust: GO BOTANY
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Ceratophyllum demersum - Coon's tail / © Robert L Carr / Non-commercial use / image modified / click on image or link to go to source page / Flora of the Turmbull National Wildlife Refuge

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Ceratophyllum dermersum / KEW: Plants of the World Online

Ceratophyllum demersum / Wikipedia
A Review: Aquatic Macrophyte Ceratophyllumdemersum L. (Ceratophyllaceae): Plant Profile, Phytochemistry and Medicinal Properties / Thomas Abu / International Journal of Science and Research, 2015 / eISSN: 2319-7064
Ceratophyllum demersum a Free-floating Aquatic Plant: A Review / Ibrahim Syed, Humaira Fatima, Abrar Mohammed, Mohsin Ali Siddiqui / IJPBR: Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biological Research, 2018; 6(2): pp 10-17 / ISSN: 2320-9267
EVALUATION OF ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY OF IN VITRO PROPAGATED MEDICINAL CERATOPHYLLUM DEMERSUM L. EXTRACTS / Bugrahan Emsen, Muhammet Dogan / ACTA Scientiarum Polonorum Hortorum Cultus, 2018; 17(1) / DOI: 10.24326/asphc.2018.1.3
Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction Optimization of α-Glucosidase Inhibitors from Ceratophyllum demersum L. and Identification of Phytochemical Profiling by HPLC-QTOF-MS/MS /  Zhen Li, Zongcai Tu, Hui Wang, Lu Zhang /  Molecules, 25(19) / DOI: 10.3390/molecules25194507
In vitro Antioxidant potential and Anticancer activity of Ceratophyllum demersum Linn. extracts on HT-29 human colon cancer cell line / Suhas S Awati, Santosh K Singh, Kiran A Wadkar / RJPT: Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, 2021; 14(1) / DOI: 10.5958/0974-360X.2021.00006.8 /
eISSN: 0974-360X / pISSN: 0974-3618
Evaluation of Antidiarrhoeal and Wound Healing Potentials of Ceratophyllum demersum Linn. Whole Plant in Rats  / AD Taranhalli, AM Kadam, SS Karale, YB Warke /  HERO: Health & Environmental Research Online, 2011; 30(2): pp 297-303 / Web of Science ID: WOS 000291136700012
Potential role of Ceratophyllum demersum in bioaccumulation and tolerance of some heavy metals / Kadria M A Mahmoud, Hassnaa A Mahmoud, Sara S M Sayed / Egyptian Journal of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries; 2018; 22(4): pp 1-12 / ISSN: 1110-6131
Water purification effect of Ceratophyllum demersum L. and change of microbial community under different treatments / Shi Chuagi, Yu Shaopeng, Meng Bo, Yang Chunxue, Liu Jia, Ding Junnan / Acta Agriculturae Zhejiangensis, 2020; 32(6): pp 1070-1081 / DOI: 10.3969/j.issn.1004-1524.2020.06.15
Evaluation of Analgesic, Antipyretic and Anti- Inflammatory Activities of Ceratophyllum Demersum Linn. in Albino Rats. / S.S. Karale, S.A. Jadhav, N.B. Chougule, S.S. Awati, A.A. Patil / Current Pharma Research, 2013; 3(4): pp 1027-1030
Chemical composition of essential oils of two submerged macrophytes, Ceratophyllum demersum L. and Vallisneria spiralis L. / Xian Qiming, Chen Haidong, Zou Huixian, Yin Daqiang / Flavour and Fragrance Journal, 2006; 21(3): pp 524-526 / DOI: 10.1002/ffj.1588
EVALUATION OF PHENOLIC EXTRACT FROM CERATOPHYLLUM DEMERSUM AGAINST LEISHMANIA SP., L20 B CELL LINE AND BACTERIA  / Mohammad Mahmoud Farhan Al-Halboisy, Noor Najoi Hassan, Sanaa Khudjur Jameel, Zaid Akram Thabit, Khalid Abbas Rasheed /  Annals of Tropical Medicine & Public Health, 2020 / DOI: 10.36295/ASRO.2020.231030
Potentially hazardous elements in sediments and Ceratophyllum demersum: an ecotoxicological risk assessment in Miliç Wetland, Samsun, Türkiye / Halim Topaldemir, Beyhan Tas et al / Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 2023; 26397-26416 / DOI: 10.1007/s11356-022-23937-2
Attenuation of microbial induced deterioration of cellulose fibers by hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum L.) methanolic extract / Ali Mohamed Omar, Taha Ayman Salah, Amal A A Mohamed, Mohamed G Sheded / International Journal of Biological Research, 2017; 5(2): pp 48-58 / DOI: 10.14419/ijbr.v5i2.8479
Anthelmintic Activity of a Polyherbal Preparation / Dwivedi A, Dwivedi S, Sitoke A K, Patel R, Jhade D / Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 2009; 13: pp 259-262
Pharmacological Activities of Ceratophyllum demersum Linn: Evaluation of Ceratophyllum demersum Linn. for it’s Gastric Antiulcer, Antidiarrhoeal and Wound Healing Activities  / Sunil Karale, Suhas Awati, Nilesh Chougule
REMOVAL OF METHYLENE BLUE BY COONTAIL (CERATOPHYLLUM DEMERSUM) USING PHYTOREMEDIATION CONCEPT /  Hind Mufeed Ewadh / Plant Archives, 2020; 20-(1): pp 2677-2682 / eISSN: 2581-6063 / pISSN: 0972-5210

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. If you know of a medicinal plant to suggest for inclusion, please email the info: local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, scientific name (most helpful), and, if available, a photo. Suggestions are greatly appreciated. (G.Stuart)

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