Nitella species

Stonewort family

Description

Nitella is a structurally complex macroalgae. It resembles muskgrass, Chara. There are more than thirty species of Nitella in the U.S.; about ten grow in Florida. They grow in shallow ponds and streams from Lee County northward. Nitella has no true leaves, but does have slender branches and branchlets. The branchlets occur in whorls at regular intervals along the branches. The branchlets may be further divided. Unlike muskgrass, stonewort has smooth stems. It is not rough to the touch and lacks the garlic-y smell of Chara. The branchlets hold the reproductive sporangia. The dark, ball-like structures appear seed-like along the branchlets.