Common Duckweed

(Lemna minor)














Photo by Kirstin Sandblom


Habitat: Duckweed grows floating on the

surface of calm bodies of water. It requires

fresh water that is high in nutrients and a

pH just over 7.


Range: Its native range is most of North

America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It has

also been introduced into Australia and South












Family: Lemnaceae


Physical Characteristics:


Leaves: Duckweed usually only has two or

three leaves which make up the visible part

of the plant. They contain small air sacks to

keep the plant afloat.


Roots: Each leaf has one hair-like root that

hangs down in the water.


Flowers: Duckweed rarely produces flowers.

It usually reproduces by dividing after more

than three leaves have grown. When it does

flower the flowers are tiny (1 mm) and simple.

They are cup-like and only visible with a

magnifying glass.


Interesting Facts: Duckweed is grown

commercially as animal feed for fish and



Experiments have shown that common

duckweed can remove heavy metals from



It is also being used to explore the effects of

pharmaceutical water pollution on plants.


Duckweeds are pollinated by insects  and wind.

They also can self-pollinate  in the absence of



Webpage References


Additional References


Les, D. H. et al. 2002. Phylogeny and Systematics of Lemnaceae, the Duckweed Family. Systematic Botany 27: 221240.


Skillicorn P., W. SPIRA, and W. JOURNEY. 1993. Duckweed aquaculture: a new aquatic farming system for developing countries. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.


Stomp, A-M. 2005. The duckweeds: A valuable plant for biomanufacturing. Biotechnology Annual Review 11: 69-99.