Know Your Subject
One key to good photography is to know your subject. Okay, perhaps I’m taking things a little too far. But when I discovered this tiny “clover” with my macro lens, I had to know more. Introducing: duckweed! (Sorry, but I don’t hear any thunderous round of applause.)
The shallow water covered in green scum and slime bubbles; the buzz of cicadas and mosquitos; the stifling humidity; a little turtle climbs out of the muck to soak up what little sun penetrates this dark bog. What a scene. Instead of simply taking a pretty picture and moving along, I decided to do a little research and learn something new about this “green scum”.
Pulling out my 40mm macro lens, I was able to get up close and personal with this little green plant. Duckweed (Lemna spp.) is considered one of the smallest flowing plants, although their tiny white flowers are seldom seen. A closer look at the “muck” revealed it isn’t gross or slimy at all; it is a tiny clover-like leaf called a thallus. It is very high in protein and therefore a favorite food of waterfowl, especially surface-feeding ducks such as mallards, teals, and wood ducks.
The large mats of Duckweed, containing hundreds of thousands of individual thalli, can completely cover ponds and thus choke out any bottom vegetation. A look back at my photo reveal banks along the now receding waters devoid of any vegetation.
I’m not certain if this is the cause of the ‘slime bubbles’, but one source states that Duckweed produces "turions" which sink to the bottom where it produces a tiny bubble of gas which causes it to float to the surface where it forms a new thallus.
So, for what it's worth, you now know a bit more about the subject than you cared to know! But thanks for reading anyway... if you made it to the end!
Photo credits: William Wise.
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