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Watermeal Wolffia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
WOLF-ee-ah
Description

Water Meal is the smallest flowering plant in the world flourishing in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical locations.  Each plant is typically 1/42" long and 1/85" wide.  Weighing in at 1/190,000 of an ounce, similar to a grain of salt.  This aquatic plant, resembling cornmeal, is found floating on the surface of still to slowly moving waters of ponds, lakes, beaver ponds, ditches, and swamps.  Each greenish-yellow tiny plant is rootless, branchless and also has no leaves.  It is an oval body of undifferentiated vegetative tissue (thallus) that produces a pistil and a single stamen originating from a floral cavity in the side.  It typically reproduces vegetatively, not flowering often.  The flower is produced in a depression on top of the plant.  

Under the right conditions, such as warm water and bright light, each plant can double is size every two days.  It can quickly cover the water surface.  

A high-protein food source, it contains approximately 40% protein.  Said to contain essential amino acids, dietary fibers, iron, zinc, and polyphenols, which may help persons with weight loss, digestion issues, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative diseases.  In its native region, it is often eaten as a vegetable, having a taste similar to sweet cabbage.  

It has also been noted it can take up excess nutrients from the water where it is located, thereby cleaning the waterway.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  It can become quite aggressive.  

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#water garden#edible plant#perennial#wildlife plant#temperate#high maintenance#water plant#fast growing#aggressive#tropical perennial#spreading#spadix#fish#warm climates#not showy#aquatic plant#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains OBL#audubon#tropical
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#water garden#edible plant#perennial#wildlife plant#temperate#high maintenance#water plant#fast growing#aggressive#tropical perennial#spreading#spadix#fish#warm climates#not showy#aquatic plant#Coastal OBL#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains OBL#audubon#tropical
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Wolffia
    Species:
    Lemnaceae
    Family:
    Araceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Asia
    Wildlife Value:
    Eaten by herbivorous fish and a variety of waterfowl.
    Play Value:
    Easy to Grow
    Textural
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    The plant can be eaten as a vegetable.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Water Plant
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Its fruit is a utricle, a small, bladder like, thin walled fruit. Due to their tiny size, the fruits are not visible.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spadix
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Wolffia lays flat on the water surface resembling a green floating carpet. The plant has a non-showy flower that does not bloom often.
  • Leaves:
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    There are no leaves.
  • Bark:
    Bark Description:
    There is no bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    There are no stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Pond
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Water Garden
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Heat
    Humidity
    Problems:
    Weedy