Nitellas are macroscopic green algae. They are bright green algae that often are mistaken for higher plants because they appear to have leaves and stems. These long, slender, delicate, smooth-textured algae lie on the bottom of a lake or pond.
Leaf: No true leaves. 6-8 evenly forked branchlets grow in whorls at regularly spaced intervals along the "stem". Nitella branchlets have a smooth texture.
Stem: No true stems. Hollow, stem-like structures have whorls of forked branches along their entire length. The largest nitella species have stems up to 2 m long.
Reproductive organs:Nitellas have microscopic spore-producing organs. Male organs grow at the base of the branchlets. Female organs are located in a cluster on the sides of the branchlets below the male organs.
Root: Lacks roots. May be attached to the bottom by root-like structures called holdfasts or floating free above the sediment.
Propagation: Spreads by spores transported by wildlife and also will form new plants from vegetative fragments.
Importance of plant: Provides cover for fish, food for fish and waterfowl, and stabilizes the sediment. Because nitellas have no roots, they remove nutrients directly from the water. Nitellas are considered desirable species in Washington.
Habitat: Nitellas are found growing in shallow to deep waters of soft water or acid lakes and bogs. They often grow in deeper water than flowering plants and frequently form a thick carpet or grow in clumps along the bottom.
They are also called as stoneworts. because the plants can become encrusted in lime (calcium carbonate).