Duckweed is found in eutrophic (nutritionally-fertile) freshwater aquatic environments, can be seen typically forming a continuous mat of plants floating on the water surface, and ecologically serve as an important high-protein nutrient source for waterfowl. The mat-like covering over the water surface provides useful shading effects in exposed bodies of water and serves to quite effectively control pond and lake water temperatures.
This is of great benefit to fish and other aquatic organisms since dissolved oxygen levels are always inversely proportional to water temperature.
Just think about a cold bottle of carbonated cola. When you uncap it, very little gas escapes, whereas when the cola is hot, a sometimes violent eruption of gas can leave your countertop (or clothes) covered with a sticky liquid.
Duckweed reproduces through vegetative propagation (asexual budding) from an enclosed meristem at the base of the frond. They are classified as angiosperms since three extremely small flowers can be produced periodically, though which sexual reproduction occurs.
Flowers consist of two stamens and a pistil forming a simple flower, which is regarded by most botanists as a form of pseudanthium (structurally-reduced flower). Whether this inflorescence truly constitutes a primitive flower or has devolved from a more complex flower is currently a matter of debate.
Range expansion in duckweed typically occurs though water egress to streams from eutrophic bodies of water, but is also known to commonly occur through allochoric transport by animals after becoming attached to skin or feathers.
The distribution of duckweed is nearly global: North America, South America, Africa, Europe, Australia, and Central and Southeast Asia. The only continent in which duckweed has yet to be found is in Antarctica, for the obvious reasons of no available surface waters.
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