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Red Duckweed

Lemna turionifera

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Lemnaceae (Duckweed)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 centimetres tall
Ditches, ponds, water.

White, no petals
Minute flowers, no petals. The flowers rarely appear. They each have a single stamen.
Red Duckweed rarely produces fruit. The whitish seeds reach no more than 0.6mm in length. The fruits are not winged.
An overwintering, aquatic plant with small, floating, round, often red-tinged (or red-spotted) leaves. The shiny leaves (fronds) are up to 4mm in length. Entire leaf margins. Perennial.
Other Names:
Little Duckweed, Turion Duckweed, Winter Duckweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lemna turionifera, also known as little duckweed or winter 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 turionifera 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 turionifera 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.


Red Duckweed, also known by its scientific name Lemna turionifera, is a tiny aquatic flowering plant that belongs to the family Lemnaceae. This species is native to Asia, but it can be found in many other regions of the world, including Europe and North America. Red Duckweed is one of the smallest flowering plants in the world, with its leaves measuring only a few millimeters in length. Despite its small size, Red Duckweed plays an important role in many aquatic ecosystems.

Red Duckweed is a free-floating plant that grows on the surface of stagnant or slow-moving water bodies, such as ponds, lakes, and streams. It is easily recognized by its bright red color and small, oval-shaped leaves. Unlike most plants, Red Duckweed does not have a stem, and its roots hang freely in the water. It reproduces very quickly and can form dense mats on the water's surface, which can provide important habitats for many aquatic animals.

One of the most interesting characteristics of Red Duckweed is its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It can grow in water bodies with low oxygen levels, high levels of nutrients, and even in water that is heavily contaminated with pollutants. This makes it an important species for remediation of polluted water bodies, as it can help remove excess nutrients and pollutants from the water.

In addition to its ecological significance, Red Duckweed also has a number of practical uses. It is a highly nutritious food source for both livestock and humans, and its fast growth rate makes it an attractive crop for aquaculture. Red Duckweed is also being researched as a potential source of biofuel, as its high productivity and low water requirements make it a promising alternative to traditional crops like corn and soybeans.

Despite its importance, Red Duckweed can also cause problems in some aquatic ecosystems. Its fast growth rate and ability to form dense mats can lead to problems such as reduced light penetration and decreased oxygen levels in the water. This can have negative impacts on other aquatic plants and animals, and may even cause the death of fish and other aquatic animals.

Red Duckweed is a fascinating and important species that plays a key role in many aquatic ecosystems. Its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, along with its potential for use as a food source, biofuel, and for remediation of polluted water bodies, make it a species that deserves further attention and research.

Red Duckweed is also a good indicator of water quality, as it is sensitive to changes in environmental conditions. For example, if Red Duckweed suddenly disappears from a water body, it may indicate that the water has become too polluted for it to survive. Similarly, an increase in the growth of Red Duckweed may indicate that the water is becoming more nutrient-rich, which could have negative impacts on other aquatic species.

In addition to its ecological and practical benefits, Red Duckweed also has cultural significance. In some cultures, it is considered to be a symbol of good luck and is often used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Red Duckweed is also used in some traditional religious rituals and is believed to have spiritual powers in some cultures.

Red Duckweed is a hardy species that is easy to cultivate, making it a popular choice for water garden enthusiasts. It is often used as a decorative plant in small water features and can add a touch of color and beauty to any aquatic landscape. Red Duckweed is also commonly used in aquariums, where it provides important habitats for aquatic animals and helps maintain good water quality.

Despite its many benefits, Red Duckweed is threatened by a number of environmental factors, including habitat destruction and water pollution. In some regions, it is also facing competition from invasive plant species that are better adapted to disturbed environments. To ensure the survival of Red Duckweed and the many species that depend on it, it is important that we take steps to protect and conserve its habitats.

Red Duckweed is a small but mighty species that plays an important role in many aquatic ecosystems. It has a wide range of ecological, practical, and cultural benefits, and is a valuable species for both conservation and cultivation. By learning more about Red Duckweed and the many benefits it provides, we can help ensure its survival for future generations to enjoy.

One interesting fact about Red Duckweed is that it has the ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually. In sexually reproducing populations, Red Duckweed produces small flowers that contain both male and female reproductive organs. In asexual reproduction, new plants are formed by the fragmentation of existing plants into smaller pieces that grow into new plants. This allows Red Duckweed to rapidly colonize new habitats and spread to new areas.

Red Duckweed has a very simple anatomy, which contributes to its ability to tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. It lacks complex structures such as stems and leaves, and instead relies on its bright red color and flat shape to maximize its exposure to sunlight for photosynthesis.

In addition to its role in water remediation, Red Duckweed has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. These properties are attributed to the presence of compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which are known to have beneficial effects on human health. Further research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of Red Duckweed, but its properties make it a promising candidate for use in the development of new medicines and health supplements.

Another important aspect of Red Duckweed is its impact on global carbon cycles. Like all plants, Red Duckweed takes in carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into organic matter through the process of photosynthesis. This helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a major contributor to global warming. Red Duckweed's high productivity and rapid growth rate make it an important contributor to the carbon cycle, and its ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide makes it a valuable tool for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that Red Duckweed is a critical food source for many aquatic animals, including ducks, fish, and other aquatic birds. These animals play important roles in maintaining the balance of aquatic ecosystems and are important indicators of ecosystem health. By providing important habitats and food sources for these animals, Red Duckweed helps to maintain the health and biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems around the world.

In conclusion, Red Duckweed is a fascinating species that has many important benefits for the environment, human health, and global carbon cycles. By learning more about this species and the important role it plays in the world around us, we can help to protect and conserve this valuable plant for future generations.