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Anabaena St. Vincent ex Bornet and Flah: Nostocaceae.

Blue-green algae. These algae are free-floating and do not produce visible strands or plant-like structures. Under magnification the round green cells of Anabaena can be seen to join like beads on a string to form short unbranched chains, arcs or coils; larger clear cells intersperse with the more numerous small ones. These cells produce blooms that give areas of still water an evenly distributed pea soup-green color. At high densities, cells can aggregate into small, flattish, floating clumps or fragments that are visible without magnification. These floating pieces can coalesce to form scums (to 3 in, 7.5 cm, thick). Geosmin is a by-product of these algae; it creates taste and odor problems (earthy, grassy) in drinking water. Under certain conditions some species may produce toxins, such as anatoxins (alkaloid neurotoxins) and the hepatotoxic (liver-damaging) microcystins, reported to be fatal to animals.

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Photography courtesy of The Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants of the University of Florida.