We are growing native UK duckweeds for comparison in common lab conditions. How useful are duckweed plants?
R&D into specialised duckweeds for fast growth and nutritional value for agricultural and food applications.
Well... they are the fastest growing plants in the world!! They are also the tiniest flowering plants on Earth! They are aquatic plants found worldwide in temperate and tropical places. They make exact clones of themselves very quickly and can double in biomass in as little as 16 hours and form large populations, taking over water courses in peak growing seasons.
Duckweeds are commonly found in stagnant waters, ponds and swamps and canal networks. They are important for biodiversity: ducks eat them, frogs hide under them, and birds and other animals can transport them great distances. A healthy coverage of duckweed can control algae populations in water as they form a mat on the surface, excluding light from deeper penetration in a water body.
Common duckweeds cover the expanse of the UK and are, as the name suggests, common. The fat and ivy-leaf duckweeds are also frequently found species in the UK. The least duckweed is an invasive alien species introduced initially from America to Europe and then to the UK, this species is currently migrating Northwards. Greater duckweeds are the largest and have many short stubby roots. The smallest of all UK duckweeds, the rootless duckweed has been reported present in the South of the UK. Species use multiplication as clones as their primary means of reproduction to ensure fast growth and large populations. Many species also produce miniature flowers so it is expected that the species interact sexually with one another. Some duckweed species make 'overwintering bodies' called turions which sink to the bottom of water and act as seeds, transforming into true duckweeds in Spring. Image taken from Collins flower guide: Guide to the flowers of Britain and Ireland.
Do you have a duckweed site to tell us about? Please get involved.
Find out more about the UK duckweed project below.
We are interested in monitoring and predicting duckweed species prevalence and their growth patterns in the UK.
What is the balance between native and invasive duckweeds? Factors involved in successful growth of certain duckweed species?
Are they there all season or at peak times?
What other plants and animals are living in the habitat?
Is it a good balance or do duckweeds have full coverage of the waterscape?
What is the water like? and light levels?
The majority of duckweeds are floating plants. Excessive duckweed growth as mats on the top of the water surface can be associated with litter aggregation in the top layer of water courses. This is totally unsightly! Duckweed mats can disrupt human activities such as swimming, boating and have been reported to cause fish death by depleting oxygen. If you want to know more about duckweed-ing and our manual, organic clean-up service, click below.
Despite some of the negative perceptions, duckweeds are still photochemical machines that take up useful elements out of water to use for biological purposes. If their excessive growth is a problem on your UK site - view our clean-up service. Our UK project includes 'duckweed harvesting' and then subject these remarkable plants for research into their potential uses . To achieve this we use a controlled climate environment and sterile nutrient dense media to optimise duckweed for nutrition. Our vision - duckweeds as a new food crop and dietary supplement. See more about our research!
Kellie Smith has 1.5 years experience in Duckweed research at the University of Nottingham. The UK duckweed project and Duckweed crop research is supported by Biotechnology and Biological sciences research council and the Future Food Beacon of Excellence. Our vision is for development of duckweeds for food and aquatic feed applications.
Clean-up service and research development of duckweeds as agricultural products.
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