Wayne Armstrong's On-line Description of Lemna minuta (Lemnaceae)
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Lemna minuta

C.S. Kunth

Least Duckweed or Minute Duckweed

Nova. Gen. et Sp. 1: 371-372; 1816.


Roots: One root.

Shape of Plant Body: Flattened, oval-oblong in outline, symmetrical, slightly thickened in middle with thin margin.

Size: 1-3 mm long (often only 1 mm long when crowded and in full sunlight).

Veins: One faint vein, extending only about half the distance from root node (point of root attachment) to apex (often very obscure and not discernible), generally shorter than region of air spaces.

Budding Pouch Position: 2 lateral pouches on either side of basal end.

Flower (Fruit) Position: Within membranous cuplike spathe (open on one side) inside budding pouches.

Arrangement of Clonal Clusters: Solitary or connected in pairs of 2 (especially under crowded conditions in full sunlight.

Habitat: Fresh water ponds, marshes and quiet streams.

Range: Very common throughout the western United States from sea level to 2,200 m, often forming heterogeneous populations mixed with other Lemna and Wolffia spp; extending southward through Mexico to South America; also in Europe and Russia.

Other Information:

This species has a larger (secondary) growth form (often in shady areas) with very thin, transparent, pale green plants, 2-4 mm long, often connected in clusters of 4; this 2nd growth form is enigmatic, often morphologically indistinguishable from the closely related L. valdiviana Phil.; although these 2 spp. are quite similar morphologically, they may be ecologically distinct; the most reliable taxonomic separation appears to be length of vein; some authors have separated them by flavonoid chromatography, but other studies (R. Scogin of RSA & J.L. Platt of OSU) suggest that flavonoid chromatography may not be reliable in separating them.

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