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New Zealand Plants and their Story

Fresh-water Algae

Fresh-water Algae.

Rivers, ponds, lakes, stagnant pools, moist soil, and many other stations are the homes of the fresh-water algae, or the pond-scums, as one section may be popularly called. They very frequently form green, slimy masses on the surface of the water. Common forms consist of what look like very fine, long, green hairs. Under a fairly strong power of the miscroscope these are seen to consist of long tubes, divided by thin walls into compartments, which contain plant-green, sometimes in the form of bands.

The fresh-water algae are a very large family, and, although page 108occupying a low position in the plant-world, their structure is at times fairly complicated, and, their methods of reproduction are quite elaborate. To this family belong the diatoms, the stoneworts (Chara, Nitella), and many others. In the hot springs of the North Island are some peculiar forms, belonging to the blue-green algae, which are able to exist in water of a very high temperature. These were recently studied by Professor Setchell, of the University of California, and in a letter to the author he states that none of the New Zealand forms can endure a temperature greater than 167° Fahr., which seems a bath quite hot enough in all truth!

These hot-water algae are sometimes cited to show how living organisms could exist in the early days of the earth when cold water would be unknown, and how such organisms may have persisted since those distant ages, and they or their congeners be the ancestors of our present plant-life.