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Common names 

The main duckweed species are the following:

  • Lemna minor: common duckweed, lesser duckweed [English]; lenticule mineure, petite lentille d'eau [French]; lenteja de agua [Spanish]; klein kroos [Dutch]; kleine Wasserlinse [German]; لمنة صغرى [Arabic]; 浮萍 [Chinese]; ウキクサ [Japanese]; 개구리밥 [Korean]
  • Lemna gibba: fat duckweed, inflated duckweed, gibbous duckweed, swollen duckweed [English]; lentille d'eau bossue [French]; Bultkroos [Dutch]; Bucklige Wasserlinse [German]; lenticchia d'acqua spugnosa [Italian]
  • Spirodela polyrhiza (sometimes spelled Spirodela polyrrhiza): great duckweed, greater duckweed, water flaxseed [English]; spirodèle polyrhize [French]; veelwortelig kroos [Dutch]; Vielwurzelige Teichlinse [German]; lenticchia di palude [Italian]
  • Wolffia arrhiza: rootless duckweed, spotless watermeal [English]; wortelloos kroos [Dutch]; Wurzellose Zwergwasserlinse [German]

Other duckweed species include Landoltia punctataLemna dispermaLemna japonicaLemna minutaLemna paucicostataLemna perpusillaLemna trisulcaLemna turioniferaLemna valdivianaSpirodela biperforataSpirodela intermediaWolffia australianaWolffia columbianaWolffia microscopiaWolffia neglectaWolffiella caudateWolffiella denticulataWolffiella lingulataWolffiella oblongaWolffiella rotunda (Hasan et al., 2009)


Duckweeds are tiny free-floating vascular plants found throughout the world on fresh (or sometimes brackish) waters.


In many parts of the world, duckweeds are consumed by domestic and wild fowl, fish, herbivorous animals, and humans (Boyd, 1968Chang et al., 1977Culley et al., 1973Rusoff et al., 1977Rusoff et al., 1978). One of the smallest duckweeds (Wolffia arrhiza) has been used as a nutritious vegetable by Burmese, Loatians, and the people of Northern Thailand for generations (Bhanthumnavin et al., 1971). Since the 1970s, duckweeds have attracted considerable attention for their high protein content, fast accumulation of biomass compared to terrestrial plants, and ability to absorb nutrients and other chemicals (see the reports and reviews of Skillicorn et al., 1993Iqbal, 1999Hasan et al., 2009Mwale et al., 2013). Duckweeds can grow very quickly in small ponds, ditches or swamps where they can extract large quantities of nutrients, making the plant a potential source of protein for humans and livestock, notably poultry and fish (Mwale et al., 2013Islam, 2002). Duckweeds have a high mineral absorption capacity, they can tolerate high organic loading and are thus being used to process waste waters and remove contaminants from it (Leng et al., 1995).