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Each speck is an individual plant
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Araceae
Subfamily: Lemnoideae
Genus: Wolffia
Close-up of floating aquatic plants: Spirodela polyrrhiza and Wolffia globosa; the very tiny Wolffia plants are under 2 millimetres (0.079 in) long.

Wolffia is a genus of nine to 11 species which include the smallest flowering plants on Earth. Commonly called watermeal or duckweed, these aquatic plants resemble specks of cornmeal floating on the water. Wolffia species are free-floating thalli, green or yellow-green, and without roots. The flower is produced in a depression on the top surface of the plant body. It has one stamen and one pistil. Individuals often float together in pairs or form floating mats with related plants, such as Lemna and Spirodela species. Most species have a very wide distribution across several continents. Wolffia species are composed of about 40% protein on a dry-matter basis, about the same as the soybean, making them a potential high-protein human food source. They have historically been collected from the water and eaten as a vegetable in much of Asia.


An 1885 illustration of Wolffia arrhiza

As of 2020, eleven species are accepted on Kew's Plants of the World Online:[1]


  1. ^ "Wolffia Horkel ex Schleid". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 22 October 2020.