Wetland Plants of Wisconsin

Wolffia columbiana H.Karst.
common water-meal
Wolffia columbiana with Lemna minor
Wolffia columbiana

Individuals of common water-meal are called fronds. Each frond consists of a small, green, floating body (0.4-1.2 mm long!) with no roots. Members of this genus (11 species, 5 in North America) are believed to be the smallest angiosperm plants. Water meal does best in full sun and in nutrient rich water. Under those conditions they can grow rapidly, reproducing not by seeds, but by simple division of a frond to produce a new "daughter" frond. Common water-meal plants rarely flower.

Identification of the species of water-meal can be difficult. A good source of information can be found in the book: Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2000. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 22. Magnoliophyta: Alismatidae, Arecidae, Commelinidae (in part), and Zingiberidae. Oxford University Press. pp143-153. It can also be found on the web at this site.


known Wisconsin distribution


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