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Duckweed Hunting in a Car

March 8, 2016

wild harvetsing duckweed in Uganda

I just spent the past week and a half traveling in Uganda and Kenya on business. While enjoying a nose-to-the glass focus on all the new sights,  the back of my brain was ever on alert for duckweed.

Finally I spotted some in a ditch and shouted, “Duckweed!” Everyone in the car cracked up because they knew me too well. Our driver promptly pulled over and we all made a mad rush to dig up empty water bottles and plastic bags.

While the water looked clear enough to see what might be lurking, we hailed a young man who was more than happy to wade out to collect water samples and as much duckweed as possible. Yeay! A new Lemna strain that I’ve not seen before. We got it home and safely transplanted. Am tickled because it looks super healthy and not going into shock from its ordeal.

A few tips for YOU when you have neural wiring fine-tuned to spot duckweed from the AC comfort of your own vehicle. (trust me, I have done this for over 120,000 miles)

  1. If you are driving, drive and “Don’t do like I do” and duckweed hunt at the same time. Promise me…
  2. Ditches near fertilized lawns or golf courses are prime game. So are rice paddies, marshlands, drainage ponds from plant nurseries, wastewater lagoons, etc…
  3. Plastic water bottles are terrific for water samples. Any old plastic bag that’ll hold moisture is good for actual duckweed for up to 24 hours and NOT left in a hot vehicle to cook to death.
  4. If you are the water chemist type and can do simple water quality analysis of your water samples, try to at least get the pH, ammonia, phosphate, and total dissolved solids of your samples. This’ll help you know how to tweak your water when you get home and give your duckweed samples something similar to what they were used to in the wild. or…
  5. Replant in YOUR water system and hope for the best.
  6. Back to harvesting, a net and pole in the trunk of your car will make harvesting a whole lot easier and safer than this young man who was vigilant for crocs while he harvested this duckweed. (I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself had he gotten attacked but he was so willing to do it for a dollar… $2 a day wages in this region.)
  7. If you feel you MUST harvest from a wastewater lagoon, don’t do it unless you have protective gear on and soak everything down with bleach afterwards. Then you have to  treat the duckweed like a red-headed stepchild for a long time in terms of potential germs. Not worth it. Let the pros handle it.
  8. Now that I’ve absolved myself from any potential lawsuits, do go out and enjoy hunting for duckweed from a vehicle. It’s a fun little treasure hunt. Enjoy!

 

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