Algae Corner: "What Is It?" - The World's Smallest Flowering Plant, Watermeal

Welcome back to the Algae Corner! Today's “What Is It” episode is on the world's tiniest flowering plant known as watermeal. This is a plant in the genus Wolffia, and it's in the duckweed family, Lemnaceae. It is the simplest and smallest flowering plant in the world.

Want to get Algae Corner Updates? Get the latest news by subscribing to our channel:

About the Size of a Pinhead

The plant itself averages 1/42” long and 1/85” wide, or about the size of a pinhead. It can weigh 1/200,000th of an ounce, or about two grains of table salt! They're very hard to see with the naked eye when they aren’t in a big group. If you tried to fill even a small thimble with them, it would take about 5,000 plants to fill that up – that’s how small these plants are.

Grainy & Sticky

To me, these plants sort of feel grainy, like tiny little gel balls. They feel like really tough little beads.

They can stick to waterfowl and jump from one waterbody to another... and before you know it, they’ve completely covered a system.

Often Mistaken for Duckweed

Watermeal often grows in concert with other things like duckweed. These have a little bit bigger fronds, but again, they look very similar.

They’ll grow together and have very similar growth pods, and can cover a system in tandem.

In Summary

If you see these tiny guys out there, they can be a big nuisance. Remember that SePRO can help. We have really neat solutions to help clear up both duckweed and watermeal.

Thanks for tuning in to this “What Is It” episode of Algae Corner talking about the world's tiniest flowering plant, known as watermeal.