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A coarse, submersed alga that resembles a vascular plant. It has a distinctive foul (musky garlic) odor when crushed. Cylindrical with whorls of 6 to 16 branchlets per node. Internodes consist of a single large cell. Each "stem" can vary in length from several inches to several feet long. The plant may also develop a calcified crust on the leaves that makes it crisp to the touch.
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Grows entirely submersed in soils that vary from sandy to silty clay. Prefers shallow, slow-moving water with minimal disturbance and grows in very dense beds, which can exclude other submersed plants.
Nitella has forked branches and lacks the foul odor of Chara. Chara may also be confused with the vascular plant coontail, but coontail lacks the musky odor of Chara. Also, coontail internodes are made of multiple cells and, unlike Chara, will not collapse when broken.
Aquatic Plants App
Whether you're a professional botanist or a casual nature enthusiast, the NC State University (NCSU) Aquatic Weeds app has detailed information on a wide variety of aquatic weeds to assist in identification.