Sunday, September 12, 2010


This tub of water is beginning to look like a cauldron full of witches brew. This was intended to be a source of water for the potted plants I keep near the barn. When various species of aquatic life colonized the tub, I stopped using the water on my plants and just enjoyed having an interesting water habitat to observe.

Kind of looks like the Bayou from this angle. The green surface coating is a mat of Duckweed, Lemna minor. Duckweed is a common plant found in many fresh water environments, but I’m not sure how it arrived in my tub. The nearest pond suitable for such a plant is about 800 feet away from and 40 feet lower in elevation than my barn. Both Green Frogs and Gray Treefrogs use the tub and I’ve seen both exit the tub with their backs covered with Duckweed. I guess it’s possible that frogs carried it from the neighboring pond.

Duckweed is basically a floating leaf with a trailing root. Reproduction is by budding of new plants off of the old. It’s a fairly rapid process and reminds me of single celled organisms dividing until they fill up all available space. A few plants one week can turn into a thousand the next.

The roots trail as a single strand beneath the leaf. They act somewhat like a sea anchor and help stabilize the leaf against sudden disturbances to the water’s surface. The root also keeps the leaf floating with the top side up, although that orientation doesn’t seem to be critical to the development of the plant.

As with any other plant, various insects have taken up residence on and among the leaves. I suppose each year will add to the diversity of Duckweed dependent organisms living in the tub. This is a native species that arrived at Blue Jay Barrens in a natural manner, but I don’t include it on my plant list for the property. Since it survives in what is essentially a bit pot, I decided I really couldn’t call it a resident. If it manages to colonize and persist in the seasonally dry pond, I may reconsider adding it to the list. For now, I’m just going to enjoy having it around.


  1. Steve, it looks like a bowl full of peas, all soaked and ready for the pot! How interesting that the frogs found it!! There's a lesson everywhere you look, isn't there? ~karen

  2. Ah, now you have the tree frogs bringing you plants, too. You have them so well trained. ;)

    Seriously, great pictures and commentary. I enjoy your blog very much.

  3. Hi Steve...I have tryed to get duck weed to grow in my little pond for a couple of years and it always die!! I think it has something to do with the water fountain keeping the water moving!!
    I was thinking (wow thats dangers)maybe you could send me a frog in a bucket "overnight delivery"
    Enjoy them...I love there tiny little roots!!

  4. Hi, Karen. There are infinite opportunities for learning if we just pay attention.

    Thanks, Lois. To keep out invasive plants, I’ve actually been trying to train the animals to clean seeds off of their bodies before they enter the property.

    Hi, grammie g. Duckweed definitely doesn’t like moving water. Maybe you could put in a small pool beside your little pond. I’ve got duckweed growing in a Rubbermaid tub that is only 12 inches by 18 inches.