If you’ve been out on the Lake recently, you’ve probably noticed large green areas in the water. It’s not paint, as some people initially believed, nor is it algae. It’s actually a small aquatic plant called Duckweed. 

What is Duckweed?

Duckweed floats on the water’s surface and, unlike algae, it actually has roots that drop into the water. It’s also the smallest of the flowering plants according to the Missouri Department of Conservation and there are several different species including Common Duckweed, Giant Duckweed, and Watermeal.  

Lemna/Duckweed On White Background

Lemna on white background

Is It Bad For Boats?

Other than looking unattractive it really do any known damage to boats. The service department at Performance Boat Center says they've never seen any issues with boat motors and Duckweed. If you're worried about a species that can be bad for boats, look no further than the dreaded Zebra Mussel.)

Is It Bad For Animals/Fish/People?

Duckweed is actually an important food source for many animals; it's very high in protein. Among them (unsurprisingly): ducks! Fish, turtles, snails and even beavers enjoy the tiny leaves. Duckweed also provides shade and camouflage for small aquatic animals. Duckweed multiplies incredibly quickly, so it can cause issues in smaller ponds where it can rapidly cover the surface of the water. In those cases, the Duckweed can block light and lower the amount of oxygen in the water. But, in small amounts, like we are seeing at the Lake of the Ozarks, it is not a concern and should provide some great food for animals. The Lake of the Ozarks Watershed Alliance also pointed out Duckweed acts like a natural water filter. "It has water purifying properties, so it leaves clean water behind," LOWA said in a Facebook post about the sudden appearance of Duckweed at the Lake.

Turtle Covered With Duckweed

Where did it come from?

According to Greg Stoner, Fisheries Management Biologist with the MDC, Duckweed is unusual to see in the Lake of the Ozarks, but very common in smaller ponds. He suspects it likely arrived at the Lake after the recent heavy flooding. As ponds overflowed, so did the Duckweed and with large amounts of water coming in from Truman Dam, the Lake of the Ozarks is receiving a lot of water from a lot of places. This run-off is often rich in nutrients, which create a perfect environment for Duckweed. 

Will it go away?

Stoner expects the Duckweed should be gone by the end of the boating season. But until then, he does not expect it to present any issues for Lake-goers or animals. People should still be able to swim, boat and fish, as usual; they just might see a little extra green on their boats for a bit.

Lake Of The Ozarks

Next week is National Travel & Tourism Week, and with several big events kicking off the recreational season at Lake of the Ozarks, the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association (TCLA) says there's no better time to visit.

photo by Evan Lampe, courtesy Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau/FunLake.com

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