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Harvesting Khai-nam (Wolffia globosa) In Thailand

Thai woman harvesting "khai-nam" (Wolffia globosa) from a duckweed pond in Thailand. "Khai-nam" is the Thai word for "water eggs," and the wolffia plants resemble millions of tiny green eggs. They contain about 40 percent protein (dry weight), about the same protein content as soy beans. Like legumes, wolffia contains high levels of all essential amino acids except methionine. In addition to northern Thailand, wolffia has been harvested for food for many generations in Burma and Laos. See: "Wolffia arrhiza as a Possible Source Of Inexpensive Protein by K. Bhanthumnavin and M.G. McGarry (Nature 232: 495. 13 August 1971). I have examined a sample of "khai-nam" from Thailand and it appears to be W. globosa rather than W. arrhiza. Image courtesy of a former student Megan Jackson who worked at a hospital in Thailand.

Close-up views of Wolffia globosa in San Diego County. The plant body of this species is smaller and more cylindrical than W. arrhiza. According to E. Landolt, Biosystematic Investigations in the Family of Duckweeds, Veroff. Geobot. Inst. ETH 70 (1980), W. arrhiza occurs in Europe, Africa and western Asia, but not southeastern Asia.

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  Best Shots Taken With Bausch & Lomb Microscope & Kodachrome 64 Film!  

Cooking Wolffia globosa In Thailand
Images Courtesy Of Sasha Bilar


Dense population of 3 Wolffia species.

Dense population of 3 Wolffia species. A. W. columbiana (appearing darker green); B. W. globosa (smallest plants in photo); and C. W. borealis (flat-topped with pointed apex).


Wolffia Used For Nutritious Gourmet Dishes

Wolffia Muffins

Fresh-baked wolffia muffins made from Wolffia columbiana and W. borealis. Note the wolffia plant bodies (appearing as greenish specks) in the muffins. My botany students and I ate these in our classroom!


Wolffia-tomato sandwhich...

A nutritious, open-faced Wolffia-tomato sandwhich on whole wheat bread. Mostly Wolffia columbiana and W. borealis.


Or how about some dip...

Nutritious Wolffia columbiana dip.

And for dessert...

Delicious Wolffia columbiana-apple pie a la mode.

Wayne at work

The author of Lemnaceae On-Line and WAYNE'S WORD photographing duckweeds through a Bausch & Lomb microscope.


Wolffia borealis

Dorsal view of several budding Wolffia borealis in full bloom. The floral cavity on the dorsal side reveals a circular concave stigma (nearest the basal end) and a single, pollen-bearing anther. Unlike Lemna, Spirodela and Landoltia, the flower is not enclosed within a membranous spathe. The flowers are protogynous, with the stigma becoming receptive before the anther matures and sheds pollen. The far right plant shows only the stigma, while the far left plant shows only the anther. The top and bottom plants show both the stigma and a faint anther.

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