Duckweed - a small-sized plant that grows on the surface of water, usually on standing water or slowly flowing water. The Duckweed found here are perennial. The plant consists of one shield leaf with a long root and lateral shoots. The new shoots are formed in such pockets of the trail (recess at the back of the plant), in which the inflorescence also appears with time. Each inflorescence has one or two male flowers and one female. The flower is unique, having neither sepals nor petals. Duckweed flowers are unique. The seeds of the plant are collected in a bag, of course the seeds themselves are hard to see, because there are up to 60 seeds in one bag (their size is really small).

The shape of the plant tends to be different, they can be solitary or in groups. Lancet, round, round, elongated, oval and elliptical plant forms have been seen. Elliptical, flat plates, about 5 mm in length, are most common in the small Duckweed . The another  Duckweed has larger leaves up to 10 mm, and they are also semi-transparent. For the humped Duckweed , the shape of the leaf is more often rounded or ovoid, up to 8 mm in length. We remember that the humped Duckweed is included in the Latvian Red Book in the 3rd category. Common spirodela is also found in Latvia, it is not usually used in medicine, it can be easily distinguished - Duckweed has one root, spirodela has a bouquet of 3-5 roots.

When preparing to bloom and during flowering, the leaves of the plant remain olive-purple. Air cavities in the leaves help the Duckweed to stay on the surface of the water. Also, each leaf has 5-7 veins.

Duckweed start to be collected in summer. This is usually done with a small gauze 'butterfly catcher'. The obtained plant is rinsed in running water and allowed to dry. Dry it by spreading it on sieves, in a shady and well-ventilated place.

Phytosterols, flavonoids, diterpenoids, carotenoids, aromatic and fatty acids, phospholipids, nitrogen-containing compounds and tannins have been found in Duckweed . It also contains polysaccharides, sulfolipids, as well as vitamin C, E, PP and group B vitamins. The plant strongly accumulates iodine and bromine salts, as well as phosphorus, calcium, silicon, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.

Medicinal significance

Experimental studies confirm the antibacterial and antimycotic activity of the small Duckweed , as well as its antiprotozoal effect, and the humped Duckweed also possesses these abilities. The small water flower can be used as a temperature-reducing, anti-inflammatory, strengthening and anti-helminthic agent. It has a weak choleretic and analgesic effect. The small, humped and three-lobed Duckweed can also be used as a diuretic.

Folk healers who have studied this plant also attribute other properties to it. It helps to treat various skin diseases and subcutaneous fatty tissue - carbuncles, boils, leucoderma, Vitiligo. This plant is also valuable for the treatment of eye diseases, immune system, digestive system, endocrine system and reproductive system. It can also be used in case of avitaminosis, infections and infestations.

In case of diseases caused by various allergies, this plant is used orally in powdered form. This powder, mixed with honey, is considered a good diuretic, capable of cleansing the body of toxins and reducing swelling. The plant will also help with headaches. This herb is given to children who are unable to contain their urine, as well as adults who show signs of nervous breakdown. An alcohol extract rinses the throat for angina and is used in case of damage to the vocal cords. After a little warming, it is used against otitis in the ear. Locally, this infusion is used against insect bites, it quickly relieves itching and swelling, and washes ulcers and festering wounds with it.

Folk healers also treat Vitiligo (skin pigmentation lesions, white spots) with it. For this purpose, it is taken orally in the form of a Duckweed solution, in the form of a course, and compresses are applied locally. Duckweed infusions or decoctions are recommended as compresses for the treatment of rheumatism and gout.

In homeopathy, this plant is used as an effective remedy for various diseases of the ears, nose and throat - rhinosinusitis, chronic rhinitis, pharyngitis, polyps and atrophic processes of the nose. It is used for snoring, bad taste in the mouth and "loud" diarrhea (increased gas).

Not recommended for use

This plant has no side effects, however, this can be observed. It should not be used in people with autonomic dystonia. People who suffer from nervous diseases should use this plant with caution, as it can cause increased irritation and provoke a nervous breakdown.

Importance of food

Duckweed are excellent food not only for poultry, but also for humans. However, it must be understood that you will only find this plant in water bodies and our water bodies are not always clean and unpolluted. Therefore, you should carefully choose the place of collection. Although used infrequently, even a small contamination will not cause dangerous consequences.

Duckweed can be used fresh, in soups, purees, stews and even cooked for the winter. However, you must be careful to eat it fresh in water bodies where people swim, livestock are watered and, most importantly, live ducks - you can also get salmonellosis from such Duckweed. Therefore, heat treatment is little or no necessity for this plant.