Chara at first appears more like a submerged plant, but it is not truly rooted to the bottom of the pond or lake.
This gray-green branched algae is oftentimes mistaken for a plant because it has stem and leaf-like structures. The leaf-like structures are whorled around the stem at mostly even intervals. Two key features that differentiate Chara algae from other aquatic plants are its smell and texture. Chara algae has a foul almost garlic-like or musky scent that becomes more prominent when it is crushed. The texture of this algae is very grainy, and when left in the sun for just a few hours will turn ashy and grey from calcium deposits. Chara does not flower and can form large colonies at the bottom of the water.
Chara can be found across the United States.