Chara illustration Chara photo

Common names: Muskgrass, Stonewort, sand grass.

Location: Usually in clear, hard water. Description: An advanced form of algae. It may grow several feet long and resemble larger plants; light-green or gray-green in color; stemlike branches with forked leaves; grows entirely below the water surface, and dense growth may cover large areas on the lake bottom.

Hints to identify: Gritty, bristly feel due to mineral deposits on leaf surfaces; emits a strong musky odor when crushed; is sometimes mistaken for coontail or milfoil, but chara has a lighter green color than most other aquatic plants.

Importance of plant: Stabilizes bottom sediments; provides food for waterfowl and cover for fish. Chara also supports insects and other small aquatic animals, which are important foods for trout, bluegills, small mouth bass, and largemouth bass.

Management strategy: See DNR regulations. It's best to leave these plants alone. If they interfere with boating or swimming and removal is absolutely necessary, try hand-pulling or cutting. Algicides, which require a DNR permit, can provide reasonable control.