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Useful Tropical Plants

Lemna minor

L.

Araceae

+ Synonyms

Hydrophace minor (L.) Bubani

Lemna conjugata Willd. ex Schleid.

Lemna minima Thuill. ex P.Beauv.

Lemna monorhiza Montandon

Lemna obcordata Bojer

Lemna ovata A.Br. ex C.Krauss

Lemna palustris Haenke ex Mert. & W.D.J.Koch

Lemna rwandensis De Sloover

Lemna vulgaris (Lam.) Lam.

Lenticula cyclostasa (Elliott ex Chev.) Kurz

Lenticula minima (Chev.) Kurz

Lenticula minor (L.) Scop.

Lenticula palustris Garsault

Lenticula vulgaris Lam.

Lenticularia monorhiza Montandon

Common Name: Duckweed

Lemna minor
Individual plants are tiny-----
Photograph by: Not known
Public domain
Lemna minor Lemna minor Lemna minor

General Information

Duckweed is a very small, floating plant. It spreads freely and is usually found growing in colonies that can cover quite large areas of still water.
The plant is gathered from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It can be a troublesome pond weed though it is easily controlled by simply scooping it out[
56
Title
Complete Guide to Water Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Muhlberg. H.
Publisher
E. P. Publishing Ltd.
Year
1982
ISBN
0-7158-0789-7
Description
Deals with a wide range of plants for temperate areas (and indoor aquaria) with quite a lot of information on cultivation techniques.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. This scooped out material makes an excellent addition to the compost heap. The growing plant is a good food source for fish and birds, as well as providing cover for creatures in the pond[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Known Hazards

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a family where most of the members contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance is toxic fresh and, if eaten, makes the mouth, tongue and throat feel as if hundreds of small needles are digging in to them. However, calcium oxalate is easily broken down either by thoroughly cooking the plant or by fully drying it and, in either of these states, it is safe to eat the plant.
People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

A cosmopolitan plant, found in most regions of the world, including Britain, absent from much of the Tropics.

Habitat

Still water[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. Mesotrophic to eutrophic, quiet waters, in sub-oceanic, cool-temperate regions with relatively mild winters[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitEvergreen Perennial
Height0.01 m
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

Duckweed can be grown from the temperate through to the tropical zones, where it is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 7 - 25°c, but can tolerate 5 - 30°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Under freezing conditions, the plant will lay dormant on the pond bottom until warmer conditions return. It can recover from winter temperatures down to -40°c, overwintering as turions (buds), or as seeds, that sink to the bottom of the pond, resting there until warmer conditions return and they can start growing[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 5,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a sunny position in still water that is rich in nitrates and lime[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 7.5, tolerating 3.5 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant spreads rapidly across quiet bodies of water that are rich in nutrients, It grows best in water with high levels of nitrogen and phosphate, but will also grow in eutrophic water. Availability of iron is often the limiting factor[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Wind and wave action can impede duckweed growth and stabilization by disrupting their ability to attach themselves to each other and form their characteristic homogenous colonial populations. Optimal conditions for growth are quiet streams and ponds[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A full, thick mat of duckweed may have a temperature of about 10°c above ambient air conditions due to radiation[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Edible Uses

Occasionally used as a vegetable[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. Somewhat harsh in taste compared to Wolffia globosa due to a high content of oxalic acid, though still considered to be far superior to Chlorella algae[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
].

Medicinal

The whole plant is alterative, antipruritic, antiscorbutic, astringent, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge and soporific[
176
Title
Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
Publication
 
Author
Yeung. Him-Che.
Publisher
Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles
Year
1985
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
,
178
Title
Chinese Materia Medica.
Publication
 
Author
Stuart. Rev. G. A.
Publisher
Taipei. Southern Materials Centre
Year
1911
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
,
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is used in the treatment of colds, measles, oedema and difficulty in urination[
176
Title
Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
Publication
 
Author
Yeung. Him-Che.
Publisher
Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles
Year
1985
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
].
It is applied externally in the treatment of skin diseases and is used as a wash for ophthalmia[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].
The plant is used in homeopathy[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
], but the report gives no more details.

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant spreads quickly and needs constant removal from ponds in order to prevent it totally covering the surface. The removed material is very high in nutrients and makes an excellent addition to the compost heap[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]

Other Uses

The dried plant repels mosquitoes[
178
Title
Chinese Materia Medica.
Publication
 
Author
Stuart. Rev. G. A.
Publisher
Taipei. Southern Materials Centre
Year
1911
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese herbal. Fascinating.
].

The plant has potential in waste water treatment, absorbing excess nutrients from surface waters, including phosphorus and ammonias, reducing suspended solids, and reducing biochemical oxygen demand[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Propagation

Seed - we have no information on this species but, since it spreads so rapidly by division, it really needs no extra help once it is in a pond.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-08-16. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Lemna+minor>

Comments

David Nicholls 03rd July 2016 17:44
There do seem to be a number of sites stating this plant can contain calcium oxalates depending on growing conditions ( e.g., http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/duckweed/nutritional-composition.htm ). I chewed a mouthful of the New Zealand variety, it did not produce that feeling of having a mouthful of pins that chewing on toxic raw Taro or other raw Aaracea with calcium oxalate will produce. Chewing (without swallowing) is the only free test for calcium oxalate I could think of. It tasted bland. I take it from this amounts must be significantly lower than Taro though I suppose still possibly harmful. I sometimes chop it up, boil it, add it to mashed potato, looks like the potato has freckles. An amazingly productive easy vegetable if it turns out to be safe.

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