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Duckweed Seeds For Sale… Or Not?

January 28, 2013

A reader asked me recently if I could supply him with duckweed seeds. I replied that the only way I know of to send duckweed is via sending a fresh, live sample of fronds, as duckweed seeds are minute and rare. I haven’t even witnessed a flowering frond yet, let alone seen seeds. Then I got to wondering – Were seeds  an alternative to shipping delicate fronds?

I emailed a friend of mine- Wayne Armstrong of “Wayne’s Word” an online textbook of natural history. Wayne is a total guru on duckweed biology and has the best pics of flowering duckweed I’ve ever seen.

“Wayne, if duckweed is sun-dried and seeds are present, would the seeds possibly be viable once the dried duckweed is placed in a water body again?”

His response, “That is an excellent question. I have never tried to grow duckweed from seed. Actually, I seldom find fruits or seeds. I always thought they needed to be in damp soil or at least protected from complete desiccation to survive.”

Wayne’s answer had me even more intrigued.  Today I started an experiment of soaking sun-dried duckweed in water. Perhaps there are a few seeds dispersed in the handfuls of “duckweed hay.” Perhaps not. It’s not a decisive test unless I actually have duckweed seeds sprout. The hay has been bone dry for eight months so there is no chance of the fronds coming back to life. Then there is always the question of IF the seeds are viable, how long before they sprout and are large enough to even see?

Fun stuff. Stay tuned.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 25, 2013 10:01 am

    So?? Did they?

    Like

    • September 25, 2013 11:14 am

      Check out my next post, A duckweed seed fail but an entertaining one. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  2. Susan Munroe permalink
    February 2, 2013 2:05 pm

    I had read something about duckweed and seeds before…

    From a co. that sells duckweed-killer herbicide:

    “Common duckweed, or Lemna minor (from the Greek lemna, “water-plant,” and minor, “lesser,”) is a very small light-green, SEED-BEARING aquatic perennial plant.”

    “The plants reproduce at twice the rate of other vascular plants by SEED and vegetatively throughout the growing season…”

    “Plants may overwinter as turions or as SEEDS, sinking and resting at the bottom of the pond until they germinate.”
    https://www.lakelawnandpond.com/DuckweedAbout.aspx

    From Pacific Domes of Ashland (OR), which has created a greenhouse “bio-energy dome” and is working toward using duckweed as a fuel. Here is the quote, but knowing how some reporters have trouble understanding concepts, I don’t know if they’re really talking about SEED, or a live plants used for “seeding” the unit (I suspect the latter):

    “Two pounds of duckweed SEED in a 32-foot tank in Philadelphia grew to a depth of 2 inches in 10 days, he said.”
    http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2011/03/southern_oregon_company_uses_f_1.html

    From an article on duckweed biology (This is a translated article, hence the somewhat awkward English — “…the paws of birds…” *grin*):

    “Flowering in the family of Lemnaceae is plotted not in what known for the flowering plants rhythms, and it was observed so rarely which specially was recorded. In Finland – are noted 33 cases of flowering from 1685-1947, in Poland – only 2 times with 1679-1959, in America the flowering of Spirodela in the last 200 years has been observed not more than 20 times.”

    “Fruits of duckweeds are well visible with the naked eye, according to the sizes/dimensions they are just larger than a poppy seed.”
    http://www.mobot.org/jwcross/duckweed/Russe/biology-e.htm

    Sue

    Like

    • February 2, 2013 3:03 pm

      Great comments and links, Sue. Thank you! I too have noticed that the term, “duckweed seeds” is used interchangeably with duckweed plants. I think I may see seeds in my duckweed hay that I am trying to revive. Spend an hour looking under a microscope last night looking for any signs of life on the surface of my test. Lots of “Whoa, what, is that frond alive or is it just such a nice green, it is faking me out… ” Nada, yet. Plus it is starting to smell a bit from decomposing material. Still, a fascinating exploration to see IF any seeds are present, WILL they sprout?

      Like

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