Lemna minor L.

First published in Sp. Pl.: 970 (1753)
This species is accepted
The native range of this species is N. & Central America, Temp. & Subtropical Old World. It is a hydroannual and grows primarily in the temperate biome. It is used as animal food and a medicine.


Lemnaceae, F. N. Hepper. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1973

Morphology General Habit
Free-floating aquatic.
Morphology General Thallus
Thallus dark green, symmetrical, flat, oblong-ovate. 2.5–6 mm. long, 1.5–4 mm. wide, rather obscurely 3-nerved, without large airspaces evident beneath.
Morphology Roots
Root solitary, arising along a shallow groove; sheath unwinged; root-cap obtuse.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Floral pocket lateral; spathe open at the top. Pistillate flower solitary. Staminate flowers 2, each with a single stamen.
sex Male
Staminate flowers 2, each with a single stamen.
sex Female
Pistillate flower solitary.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seed solitary, not ribbed, reticulate.
Fig. 1/3, p. 3.
Surface of pools at cooler altitudes; up to 1800 m.
widespread elsewhere K4 U2

Biogeografic region: Andean. Colombian departments: Bogotá DC.
IUCN Red List Assessment (2021): LC.
Habitat according IUCN Habitats Classification: forest and woodland, savanna, shrubland, artificial - terrestrial.

CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011. araceae.e-monocot.org

Lesser Duckweed, or Duckmeat
Fronds not coloured on the lower surface or if slightly reddish, the upper surface is more intensely coloured; does not occur in East Asia. Thallus with small cells and small airspaces; root arising in a groove. Root sheath not winged.
General Description
FRONDS 1-8 (very rarely up to 10) mm long, 0.6-5.0 (very rarely up to 7.0) mm wide, 1 1/3-2 times as long as wide; shiny on the upper surface; with some indistinct papules along the median line (papules near the tip and above the node somewhat larger than the ones between), with 3 (rarely up to 4-5) nerves; if 4-5 nerves present the outer lateral nerves originate from the lower part of the inner lateral nerves,; never gibbous (not thicker than about 1 mm), on the upper surface occasionally diffusely reddish (especially during the cold season), on the lower surface very rarely slightly reddish (but much less intensely than on the upper surface); greatest distance between the inner lateral nerves in or somewhat below the middle of the nerves; largest air spaces rarely wider than 0.3 mm; rootcap usually rounded (living and dried material) ; no rootless turions which sink to the bottom of the water present. INFLORESCENCE: Plants occasionally flowering and very rarely fruiting. Ovary with 1 ovule; style 0.10-0.15 mm long INFRUCTESCENCE: fruit 0.8-1.0 mm long, 0.8-1.1 mm wide, with winged margin; wing 0.05-0.10 mm wide; seed 0.7-1.0 mm long, 0.4-0.6 mm thick, whitish, with 10-16 distinct ribs, stays within the fruit wall after ripening.
Stagnant waters, covering the surface with a green mantle
Temperate regions of the whole world except East Asia and Australia (introduced around Melbourne), with relatively mild winters

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/164057/120125670

LC - least concern

J. R. Timberlake, E. S. Martins (2012). Flora Zambesiaca, Vol 12 (part 1) Araceae. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Morphology Leaves
Frond ovate, 1.5–2 times as long as wide, 1–8(10) × 0.6–5(7) mm, usually tinged reddish or with reddish spots
Morphology Roots
Root often exceeding 3 cm; root sheath not winged, root tip mostly rounded
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence produced occasionally
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Pistil
Pistil with 1 amphitropous ovule, style 0.1–0.15 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruits rarely produced, 0.8–1 mm in diameter, with 1 seed
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 0.7–1 × 0.4–0.6 mm, with 10–16 ribs, remaining within fruit at maturity.
Mozambique. Also found in North America, Europe, Africa and W Asia, introduced into S Australia and New Zealand; possibly native to southern Africa.
In a wide range of aquatic habitats, often in somewhat eutrophic waters; c.50 m.
Not threatened, but within the Flora area known only from one locality.


Use Animal Food
Used as animal food.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.


  • CATE Araceae

    • Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 17 Dec 2011.
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora Zambesiaca

    • Flora Zambesiaca
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    • Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • IUCN Categories

    • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2023. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants 2023. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and https://powo.science.kew.org/
    • © Copyright 2023 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Vascular Plants. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
  • Kew Science Photographs

    • Copyright applied to individual images
  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

    • http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0