Duckweed is a common organism that floats in water and has a light green color, according to Texas A&M University. Duckweed is the smallest flowering plant on earth. Duckweed can help reduce pollution levels in a body of water, but if duckweed grows too fast it can also have a devastating effect on marine ecosystems.
Duckweed plants have between two and three leaves that are also called fronds, according to Texas A&M University. These fronds range from a sixth of an inch to an eighth of an inch in length.
Duckweed plants like to grow in dense colonies and on the surface of calm water, according to Texas A&M University. There are usually more than one type of duckweed species that grow in the same place.
Duckweed plants can aggressively invade ponds and bodies of water often disrupting marine ecosystems, according to Texas A&M University. Sometimes duckweed plants are found with mosquitoes and water meal. If colonies of duckweed cover the entire surface of a pond, it can prevent light from reaching plants on the bottom of the pond. This results in the death of plant life. As a result, fish that eat the plants have no source of food resulting in all life in the pond dying. If duckweed covers an entire pond, it will also reduce the oxygen supply of a pond.
One example of this is Venezuela’s largest lake, Lake Maracaibo. At one point over 12 percent of the lake’s surface was covered with duckweed. The Venezuelan government was having an extremely difficult time keeping up with the growth of the plant in an attempt to prevent it from covering the entire body of water, according to Mobot.org.
Duckweed plants do provide a habitat for microinvertibrates, according to Texas A&M University. Duckweed plants grow faster when nitrogen levels are high in water. Pollution significantly increases nitrogen levels. Duckweed plants can reduce the amount of pollution in water, but still may have negative effects on marine ecosystems because of increased growth.
Many species of ducks consume duckweed, according to Texas A&M University. Some of the different species of duckweed plants include common duckweed and giant duckweed.
The scientific name for common duckweed is Lemna minor, according to Texas A&M University. The scientific name for giant duckweed is Spirodela polyrhiza.
- Photo Credit Derwent Lake, Keswick, Lake District National Park image by Kryzstofer from Fotolia.com