Saturday, October 16, 2010

Turtles and Duckweed

As the last warm days of fall are winding down, I find myself amused by the gathering of turtles along the Alta Rd. wetlands of the Richland County B & O Bike Trail. These Midland Painted Turtles must sense winter is on its way, as they assemble in numbers, grabbing the last opportunity for a sun bath before the winter winds blow.

And maybe not a cute as the shell-backed sunners, but equally interesting...

is the Duckweed floating on the water and gathered upon the shells of many of the aquatic creatures.

As a plant enthusiast, I must admit I never gave this small aquatic plant a second thought until Steve McKee of Gorman Nature Center gave a program on them. These versatile plants are a primary foods for many ducks (well, duh!) and fish. In Vietnam it is being commercially grown as poultry and livestock food. But the most incredible reading comes from research on the use of duckweed to "clean" hog lots and the resulting discovery that duckweed can produce 5 to 6 times more starch than corn, and would be far more efficient for the production of ethanol!

Classic! With so many good things to recommend this magical, miniature plant, most of the web links you'll find are linked to prevention or controls to eradicate it!
Duckweed: so minuscule... so misunderstood.

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