Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Duckweed

Duckweed is our smallest flowering plant. It floats on pond surfaces, often turning lakes green. The plant does not grow in moving water and favors nutrient-rich water. Duckweed reproduces both sexually (via a tiny flower) and asexually (by budding). A single duckweed produces a daughter bud about once a day. In about two weeks, this rate of reproduction results in about 17,500 plants! A pond covered with duckweed suffers from few underwater plants and usually low oxygen levels that cause fish to die. Koi, goldfish, and grass carp will eat duckweed, but prefer other plants. Ducks eat duckweed, and also disperse duckweed that stick to their feathers. When people complain about duckweed, however, I reply that I prefer a pond filled with a flowering plant rather than slimy algae. Furthermore, duckweed is a high-protein food source for waterfowl (and, potentially, for people). The plant, with its extraordinary reproductive ability, has the potential as a renewable resource for clean energy--an energy source that actually removes carbon-dioxide from the air.

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