Stonewort (Nitella sp.)

Stonewort photograph

Common names: Stonewort.

Location: Usually in deeper zones of lake, to depths of 30 feet.

Description: An advanced form of algae. It may grow several feet long and resemble larger plants; light-green to bright-green in color; stemlike branches with whorls of leaves; grows entirely below the water surface.

Hints to identify: Resembles muskgrass but does NOT emit a strong musky odor when crushed; translucent stems and leaves appear to be filled with green "jello".

Importance of plant: Provides food for waterfowl and cover for fish; 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. Stoneworts typically grow in deep water where they do not interfere with boating or swimming.

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