Thursday, April 9, 2009

More reasons to love duckweed

I happen to love duckweed. As the smallest flowering plant in existence, it's a beautiful excercise in minimalism: a leaf, a root, and once in a while a teeny tiny flower or fruit. As a rapidly spreading, protein-rich native plant, it's a big part of what keeps lakes and ponds vital. I'm not the only one that feels this way about it. The Missouri Botanical Garden maintains this fan site which includes links to duckweed's many applications. Culture it, and it's fodder for fish farms Genetically modify it and it'll make pharmaceuticals for you. And there's more.
Wired Science has this story about how a pair of researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that duckweed can gobble up animal waste, while producing starch that can be converted into ethanol. That's right, it can clean wastewater while producing biofuel.
Duckweed rocks.

Photo from the New York Department of Conservation.

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