Skip to content

Duckweed Seed Fail

February 16, 2013

Last post, I wanted to discover if dried duckweed might have viable seeds. I have to say no- all I ended up with was a container full of decaying watery duckweed and no signs of green life. Now if you want to talk bacteria and entertaining rotifers… it’s a menagerie in that soupy mix

I threw some fresh duckweed in, just to see if it would thrive on the newly released nutrients from its decayed bretheren. The fresh is looking a deeper green but has not taken off yet in overall growth. I think the decaying process needs to develop more nitrifying bacteria first.

I DO know that my houseplants are doing incredibly well with using fresh duckweed as a soil covering. It takes a month or so to wait for the duckweed to begin breaking down, but when it does, my houseplants respond with beautiful deep green leaves and extra growth.

Am in the throes of starting a duckweed production business and that is taking up most of my waking hours these days. I’ve secured the ponds, the starter duckweed, my production process, identified my customer base, and am working up the biz plans. Exciting time but a million things to do if I am going to get this off the ground this spring.

I transplanted my first tomato seedlings this morning- Oregon Spring. Hope to take advantage of the chilly spring weather. It gets hot here fast, so this batch will be have to be in production in mid-April or succumb to the mid-May heat in this area. Will have a few succeeding species that are more heat tolerant.

I planted a ton of hollyhock seeds in flats. I miss them and look forward to clusters here and there in the front of my country cottage. Think, “FLOWERS” because woman does not eat by bread alone.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2022 4:35 pm

    I am looking for duckweed seeds that will grow to lovely duckweed that will survive the winter. Not much luck. Can you recommend a source?


    • August 25, 2022 9:39 am

      Duckweed seeds are rare and not really an efficient way to grow it. No plants survive freezing temps, but some produce starch-filled turions that sink down to the mud and start growing in the spring.


  2. Susan Munroe permalink
    February 19, 2013 11:46 pm

    “Winter-dormant seeds and turions resting on the bottom are insulated from the cold and drying conditions on the surface.”

    “Duckweed grows across a wide temperature range – between 6C [43ºF] and 33C [91ºF] – but we’ve determined that it grows best in a range of 18C [64ºF] to 24C [75ºF]. We know that growth slows progressively up to 30C [86ºF] and the plant begins to die off quickly at around 33C [91ºF].”

    “Various duckweed species flower either on long days or on short days. Lemna gibba, for example is a long-day species, while Lemna paucicostata 6746 is a short-day species.” [This link also shows photos of the seed pods and seeds.]

    “Certain duckweeds (e.g. L. gibba) are long day plants, while others (e.g. L. minor) are short day plants.”

    “The plant reproduces both vegetatively and sexually, flowering occurs sporadically and unpredictably. The fruit contains several ribbed seeds which are resistant to prolonged desiccation and quickly germinate in favourable conditions.”

    Regarding your “seed sprouting” experiment:
    The second, third and fourth paragraphs above provide some additional info for seed sprouting: water temperature limits and day-length needs. If you have more dried Lemna, you might try sprouting it under other conditions.



    • February 20, 2013 8:50 pm

      Sue, these are great links. In the first one, Dr. Cross mentions that seeds are resistant to drying. I take it that they can dry out then. It’s not looking good for the home team though, as of the Lemna species, only one can flower and that is Lemna turionifera. My dried samples are predominately Lemna minor. I read further and recalled that Salcyic acid can be used to induce flowering. I did try that last summer. Took an aspirin and dissolved it in water and let my duckweed float in i for a couple weeks.. Nada. Now I realize I was trying to make Lemna minor flower! No wonder… Thanks Sue. I learned a couple new things from your research!


  3. hamdi shaar permalink
    February 18, 2013 6:18 am

    Dear tamra

    Have you considered inducing turion formation artificially in your duckweed strains? Duckweed of the Lemna, Spirodela and Wolffia do form turions. These turions might become an alternative form of transporting duckweed (instead of live green tissues).


    • hamdi shaar permalink
      February 18, 2013 6:55 am

      Is it possible to setup turion inducing conditions in one your duckweed ponds ( green house/old bath tub/water tank)and sell dry duckweed turions instead of dry fronds?


    • February 18, 2013 8:35 am

      Hamdi, I haven’t considered it. Turions are the starchy forms of duckweed fronds. There is that option if you are able to sort out the turions from mud in the winter. I’ve looked at mud samples this winter but haven’t found any but only chose one small pond to look at.. Let’s say that I did sieve some out. I would have to ship them wet or at least damp as drying them out would probably kill them. Maybe float them in a petri dish with agar agar? I think it would be just as easy to ship regular fronds. The seeds would be much easier IF they were consistently producible, harvest-able, and would withstand drying out. It’s possible to discover all this. You game?


  4. February 17, 2013 5:14 am

    Does duckweed set seed at all? If its reproduction is always vegetative, does that mean no genetic recombination?

    I hope your duckweed business will be a great success.


    • February 17, 2013 8:02 am

      Hi Sam, yes duckweed does flower and set seed, albeit very rarely. I can’t answer as to genetic recombination and now you’ve got me wondering as well. I just met a Lemna geneticist this past month and could ask her. I thought to hedge my bets with approximately 1,000 dried plants with the hopes that there was at least one seed in there somewhere. If there was, it didn’t sprout.


      • February 17, 2013 9:07 am

        I wonder what conditions (temperature, pH, nutrients, light?) would encourage flowering, seeding and germination. Perhaps the Lemna geneticist will know.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: