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Least Duckweed

Lemna minuta

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lemnaceae (Duckweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 centimetre tall
Ditches, marshes, ponds, swamps, water.

White, no petals
Insignificant. The flowers consist of 2 stamens and a style.
Insignificant and minute.
Duckweed is invasive and mat-forming. It carpets the surface of the water so thick that it can completely block out the light below. The leaves are elliptical, dull green and slightly ridged. The leaves sometimes have 1 vein. This is the smallest species of Duckweed. The leaves are a maximum of 2.5mm across. The underside of the leaves are much paler than those of Common Duckweed (Lemna minor).
Other Names:
Dinky Duckweed, Minuscule Duckweed, Minute Duckweed, Small Duckweed.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Lemna minuta, also known as small duckweed or minute duckweed, is a species of aquatic plant in the duckweed family. It is native to North America, and it is widely distributed in the United States and Canada. Lemna minuta is a small, free-floating plant that grows in still or slow-moving bodies of water. It has a simple structure, with a single, oval-shaped leaf (thallus) that is attached to the water surface by a root-like stalk (stipe). The plant reproduces rapidly, and it can form dense mats on the surface of the water. Lemna minuta is an important food source for waterfowl and other animals, and it is also used in wastewater treatment and as a bioindicator of water quality.


Least Duckweed, also known as Lemna minuta, is a tiny floating plant species that belongs to the family Lemnaceae. It is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world and can be easily recognized by its small size and circular shape. Despite its miniature size, least duckweed is a hardy species that can grow in a variety of aquatic environments, making it a common sight in ponds, lakes, and rivers.

Least duckweed is a fast-growing plant that can double its size in just a few days. This rapid growth rate is due to its ability to produce new plants from fragments, allowing it to spread quickly and cover large areas of water. This can sometimes lead to problems, as least duckweed can rapidly outcompete other aquatic plants, reducing oxygen levels and altering the balance of the ecosystem.

The small size of least duckweed also makes it a favorite food of many aquatic animals, including ducks, geese, and fish. In addition, the plant is known to provide a habitat for many species of invertebrates and insects, making it an important part of the food chain in many aquatic environments.

Despite its potential problems, least duckweed has many uses that make it an important species in various fields. In agriculture, it is used as a natural fertilizer due to its ability to fix nitrogen from the air and make it available to other plants. It is also being studied for its potential as a source of biofuels, as its high growth rate and ability to produce a large amount of biomass in a short period of time make it a promising candidate.

In addition, least duckweed has been used in traditional medicine for centuries and is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It is also rich in nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron, making it a healthy addition to the diet.

Least duckweed is a tiny but mighty plant species that has a significant impact on the aquatic environment and has many uses in various fields. Whether you're a farmer looking for a natural fertilizer, a researcher studying the potential of biofuels, or simply a nature lover interested in the fascinating world of plants, least duckweed is definitely a species worth learning more about.

In addition to its ecological and practical benefits, least duckweed has also captured the imagination of scientists and hobbyists alike due to its unique features and fascinating life cycle. For example, the plant has a very simple structure, consisting of only one or two small leaves and a root that hangs below it. This makes it a popular subject for studies on plant biology and evolution.

Least duckweed also has the ability to survive extreme environmental conditions, including high temperatures, low light levels, and fluctuating water levels. This makes it a valuable model organism for studies on plant adaptation and survival.

Another interesting feature of least duckweed is its ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually. While it can produce seeds, it is much more common for the plant to reproduce by fragmentation, breaking off small pieces of itself that grow into new plants. This makes it easy to cultivate and maintain a population of least duckweed, making it a popular choice for aquariums and water gardens.

Least duckweed is also a popular subject for photography, with many nature photographers capturing the beauty of these tiny plants in their aquatic environments. Its small size and delicate beauty make it a perfect subject for macro photography, and its ability to cover large areas of water can create stunning patterns and textures.

Least duckweed is a fascinating and versatile species that has much to offer both the scientific community and the general public. Whether you're interested in its practical benefits, its unique biology, or simply its aesthetic appeal, least duckweed is sure to capture your imagination and leave you with a newfound appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Least duckweed is also a popular subject for research in the field of phytoremediation, the use of plants to remove pollutants from the environment. The plant has been shown to be effective in removing a range of pollutants, including heavy metals and organic pollutants, from contaminated water bodies. This makes it an important tool for cleaning up contaminated sites and restoring the health of aquatic ecosystems.

In addition to its phytoremediation properties, least duckweed has also been found to have the potential for use in wastewater treatment. The plant is capable of removing nitrogen and phosphorus, two key components of wastewater, from water bodies. This makes it an effective tool for reducing the levels of these pollutants in water and preventing eutrophication, the over-enrichment of water bodies with nutrients that can lead to the growth of harmful algal blooms.

Least duckweed is also a valuable species for the study of plant-microbe interactions. The plant has a close relationship with microbes in the water, and these interactions can play a key role in the plant's survival and growth. Researchers are studying these interactions to better understand how plants interact with their environment and to develop new strategies for improving plant growth and productivity.

In addition to its scientific importance, least duckweed also has a place in cultural and religious traditions. In some cultures, the plant is seen as a symbol of hope and renewal, and is used in rituals and ceremonies. It is also used as a symbol of the interconnectedness of all life, representing the importance of small things in the world and the role they play in the larger ecosystem.

In conclusion, least duckweed is a fascinating and important species with a wide range of benefits and uses. From its practical applications in phytoremediation and wastewater treatment, to its importance in plant-microbe interactions and cultural traditions, this tiny plant has much to offer and is sure to continue to capture the interest of scientists and the general public for many years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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