The green algae (singular: green alga) are the large group of algae from which the embryophytes (higher plants) emerged. As such, they form a paraphyletic group, although the group including both green algae and embryophytes is monophyletic (and often just known as kingdom Plantae). The green algae include unicellular and colonial flagellates, most with two flagella per cell, as well as various colonial, coccoid and filamentous forms, and macroscopic seaweeds. In the Charales, the closest relatives of higher plants, full differentiation of tissues occurs. There are about 6,000 species of green algae. Many species live most of their lives as single cells, while other species form colonies, coenobia, long filaments, or highly differentiated macroscopic seaweeds.
A few other organisms rely on green algae to conduct photosynthesis for them. The chloroplasts in euglenids and chlorarachniophytes were acquired from ingested green algae, and in the latter retain a vestigial nucleus (nucleomorph). Green algae are also found symbiotically in the ciliate Paramecium, and in Hydra viridis and flatworms. Some species of green algae, particularly of genera Trebouxia and Pseudotrebouxia (Trebouxiophyceae), can be found in symbiotic associations with fungi to form lichens. In general the fungal species that partner in lichens cannot live on their own, while the algal species is often found living in nature without the fungus. Trentepohlia is a green filamentous alga that can live freely on humid soil, rocks or tree bark or form the photosymbiont in lichens of the family Graphidaceae.