Muskgrass, Chara

Chara spp.

Description


Chara is often called muskgrass or skunkweed because of its foul, musty almost garlic-like odor. Chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that is often confused with submerged flowering plants. However, Chara has no flower, will not extend above the water surface, and often has a “grainy” or “crunchy” texture. Chara has cylindrical, whorled branches with 6 to 16 branchlets around each node.

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. Chara is consumed by many species of ducks.