Chara australis


Chara: Origin unknown, possibly from the Greek charis 'grace' or 'beauty'
australis: southern

Common Name(s)



Chara australis R. Brown



Brief Description

Small branched submerged plant with easily punctured stems and branches, often with bright orange structures at the base of upper branches

Flora Category

Non Vascular - Native


Chara corallina


Indigenous. New Zealand: North, South Island. Also Australia.


Lakes and slow flowing waters.


Aquatic, submerged, macro-algae. Often a tall (0.3-0.5 m), stiff plant, which is easily crushed. Simple, not forked branchlets arise in whorls from central stems, which are anchored in the sediment by colourless rhizoids. Stem and branchlets are comprised of strings of large single cells that are easily punctured. Small accessory cells at junctions between branchlet cells are not obvious. Plant is dioecious, with large orange antheridia and pale oogonia on separate plants and with fruiting bodies dispersed over the upper stem portions. The plant is particularly conspicuous when orange, male fruiting bodies (antheridia) are abundant.

Similar Taxa

Differs from Chara sp. aff. muelleri in being dioecious and having only one end cell on branchlet ends, while the former is monoecious and has a corona of 2-3 cells. Spines can usually be seen in abnormal freshwater forms of Lamprothamnium that otherwise resemble small plants of C. australis.


Produces large (>500µm long) black oospores that are round in transverse section. Oospore has 5-6 sinistral spiralling ridges.

Propagation Technique

Fragments or oospores.

References and further reading

Broady, P.A.; Flint, E.A.; Nelson, W.A.; Cassie Cooper, V.; de Winton, M.D.; Novis P.M. Chapter 23 Twenty –Three :Phyla Chlorophyta and Charophyta (Green Algae). In: New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity (Volume 3), Gordon, D.P. (Ed), Canterbury University Press, 616pp.

Casanova, M.T.; de Winton, M.D.; Karol, K.G.; Clayton J.S. (2007). Nitella hookeri A. Braun (Characeae, Charophyceae) in New Zealand and Australia: implications for endemism, speciation and biogeography. Charophytes (1): 2-18

de Winton, M.D.; Dugdale, A.M.; Clayton, J.S. (2007). An identification key for oospores of the extant charophytes of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany:463-476

Wood RD, Mason R 1977. Characeae of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 15: 87–180.

This page last updated on 7 Jan 2013