It’s real name is Duckweed – that scummy stuff that coats the surfaces of ponds and marshes and even the critters swimming around there.
But it seems that Duckweed is highly nutritious and is even promoted as a supplementary feed for livestock. Gram for gram it contains more protein than soybeans, and it grows incredibly fast — in fact, it is one of those species that exhibits exponential growth, doubling every so many hours. With its high protein content (35-43%), low fat (5% poly-unsaturated fat), and low fiber content (5-15%), it is highly digestible, yielding more calories with less work. Although it is regularly consumed in some cultures in southeast Asia, Duckweed is high in oxalates, which makes it potentially toxic to your kidneys, so it’s not high on my list of edibles.
Instead of eating it, Duckweed may prove valuable as a source of biofuels because it grows so fast, has so little fiber, and contains 5-6 times the amount of starch that corn does.
Duckweed is a primary food source for lots of wildlife, including Mallards, Wood Ducks, Canada Geese, Painted and Snapping Turtles (I thought they were carnivorous!), even Beaver. I’m going to add Trumpeter Swans to this list, because I saw them gobbling it up the other day.
All in all, it seems that “Uck-weed” has a lot going for it, as a food source and a potential fuel source. I’ll stop denigrating pond scum now.