Wolffia sp.

Click on each photo thumbnail to enlarge.

Less than 1/16th of an inch long and elliptic, watermeal is the world’s smallest (primitive) flowering plant. It is much smaller than Lesser Duckweed (Lemna minor) (B) or Greater Duckweed (Spirodela polyrrhiza) (A). With primitive flower pouches and fruit, individual plants are usually seen attached to daughter plants. Three species of Watermeal have been identified in Fontenelle Forest so far. But the differences in their field marks are not easy to see or describe – they require a microscope – or photographed well enough in the field. They are W. borealis, identified by the tiny raised point as shown in the close-up image “C”; W. columbiana and W. brasiliensis, the last one was discovered and identified the first time in Nebraska in 2002 by Roland Barth and Neal Ratzlaff (Ref. The Flora of Nebraska, p. 548).

On calm water starting in April. In Fontenelle Forest, common along Stream Trail.

Watermeal feels crunchy when rubbed between the fingers, like finely ground grain (meal). Supposedly watermeal is very nutritious and tastes great in such vegetarian recipes as wolffia muffins.

The content of NatureSearch is provided by dedicated volunteer Naturalists of Fontenelle Forest who strive to provide the most accurate information available. Contributors of the images retain their copyrights. The point of contact for this page is: Roland Barth.