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Lemna minor L.

Common duckweed

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassAlismatidaeAquatic and marshy plants
OrderAlismatalesHerbaceous flowering plants found in marshy habitats
FamilyAraceaeArum family, with plants whose flower is enclosed in a spathe
GenusLemnaFrom Greek limnos, “lake or swamp”
Speciesminor“Smaller or lesser”

About plant names...

Common duckweed is native to Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Lemna means "water-plant" and "minor" means "lesser"—lesser because there is a similar-appearing plant in a different genus and with larger leaves, greater duckweed.

Identification: Duckweed forms a nearly continuous mat of tiny green leaves just below the surface of freshwater ponds and slow-moving streams. The leaves are so small that colonies resemble algae or "pond scum" from a distance. Each leaf is oval, ¹/₃₂-¼" (1-8 mm) × ¹/₃₂-⅛" (0.6-5 mm), equipped with tiny air sacs for flotation. Flowers are rare and nearly invisible at about ¹/₃₂" (1 mm) in diameter. Fish and birds benefit from its relatively high fat and protein levels: "duckweed" is named for ducks' preference for this food.

Online References:

Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Wayne's Word


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Lemna minor (common duckweed)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 31 × 21" (78 × 52 cm)

Lemna minor (common duckweed)

6/12/2023 · Viles Arboretum, Augusta, Maine

Lemna cyclostasa Elliot ex Schleid.

Lemna minima Chevall. ex Schleid.


Lemna minor description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Lemna minor (common duckweed)

≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Lemna minor (common duckweed)

8/30/2010 · Old RR bed near Wilkins Farm, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts

Lemna minor (common duckweed)

8/30/2010 · Old RR bed near Wilkins Farm, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 17 × 12" (44 × 29 cm)

Lemna minor (common duckweed)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 10 × 6" (24 × 16 cm)

Lemna minor (common duckweed)

7/23/2010 · Nashua River Boat Ramp on Rte 119, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm) ID is uncertain

Range: Zones 4-10:

About this map...