A Leafy Green Wonder

It’s sprinkling above my head, as I walk through the woods on Washtenaw Community College’s campus. I feel the small, wet raindrops land on my head, face, and arms. I sit down on a leafy spot of the forest floor, and survey my surroundings. I notice a large pond. It shines in the middle of the forest and I get up and walk towards it. Once I meet the edge of the pond, I bend down and study it more. Beautiful brown ducks swim and quack around joyfully in the water, sending ripples throughout the pond. While studying the ducks, I notice a tiny green leaf float by. Then another, and another. Where were they coming from? I walk down to the other side of the pond. This plant had taken up the whole right side and front of the pond. Everywhere was a little green leaf. I then wondered what these plants were and what they do (if anything), where they can most likely be found,  and why they had multiplied and sprouted so many times.

According to Walter Fertig at the USDA, Duckweed are the tiniest flowering plants known to man. They are a light pea green color that come in different shapes and sizes and usually grow in colonies. The image below shows the different types of Duckweed.

What these plants can do besides take over your pond, is be used as food for animals and humans. Wolffiella duckweed is used as a vegetable in countries such as, Laos, Thailand, and Burma. Animals like Ducks, Carp, Koi fish, Beavers, Turtles, different types of frogs, snakes, insects, and crustaceans eat duckweed, and some also use it as shelter. As well as being a source of food and shelter, research is being done currently to see if duckweed is a possible source of clean energy.

So we know what duckweed is and what it does for some of the planet’s creatures, but what kind of water does it grow in and where can these leafy green wonders be found?

According to SePRO, a company that creates safe-use and effective agricultural control products, duckweed can be found in ponds, marshes, slow-moving streams, and lakes. Duckweed can also be found in many different places all over the world.

A huge question remains unanswered. Why was there so much duckweed in that pond? How and why did the duckweed multiply so excessively? What I later researched about the growth and multiplying of duckweed was that it sexually reproduces at twice the rate as other plants. What triggers this growth and multiplication are things like, too much fertilizer use, imbalances of fish and water fowl population, recirculation of nitrogen and phosphorus from decomposing and growth cycles of duckweed. A duckweed’s fronds (leaves) are also unlike any other plant’s, because they hold buds that cause more leaves to grow, giving the body of water it’s growing in an infestation of duckweed.

Knowing all these new things about duckweed, really helps me toward understanding a tiny bit more about the strange plant life of the planet Earth. I find duckweed to still be an intriguing and interesting plant to me and I want to continue learning more about this special plant.


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