Scientific name:  Nitella

Physical Characteristics

  • Stoneworts are branched multicellular algae that are often confused with submerged flowering plants
  • Stoneworts have no flower
  • Will not extend above the water surface
  • Nitella has no odor and are soft to the touch, unlike Chara
  • Stoneworts are light to dark green in color with forked, bushy branches 1/16 to 1/8 inches in diameter.

Pros and Cons of Nitella

Nitella has no known direct food value to wildlife. Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus” for many aquatic invertebrates.

USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database (, 28 March 2018). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Information and photos courtesy of AquaPlant A Diagnostics Tool for Pond Plants and Algae.