About the size of two grains of salt, each Wolffia flower consists of a single pistil and stamen in the upper part of the plant body. A bouquet of a dozen blooms wouldn’t cover a pinhead. And as you might guess, the smallest flowering plant also holds the record for the smallest fruit called utricle.
Image by matt knoth via FlickrEven though these plants are small they are also mighty. Duckweed is being used to extract nitrogen and phosphate pollutants from agricultural and municipal wastewater. They can reduce algae growth, coliform bacterial counts, and mosquito larvae on ponds, while concentrating heavy metals, capturing or degrading toxic chemicals, and encouraging the growth of other aquatic animals such as frogs and birds.
Duckweed also produce biomass faster than any other flowering plant, serve as high-protein feed for animals, and show clear potential as an alternative for biofuel production.
So take a second look at the local pond. After a little more research, the unassuming and fast-growing duckweed has tremendous potential to clean up pollution, combat global warming, and feed the world.
Related Web Sites
1. Duckweed pictures
2. World’s Smallest Flowering Plant - by Wayne P. Armstrong