Birthday treat

Pete and I had a rare day out, visiting Cambridge Botanic Gardens. Every time I visit I remember why I became a botanist - such an array of fascinating plants including epiphytic cacti, young plants of Titan Arum over 2 metres in height, the phosphorescent green flowers of the Jade Vine, parasitic Purple Toothwort and bright pink-flowered Wild Peony - I could go on and on....

But the plant that most excited me was the tiny green ovoids in my main image, each one about a millimetre or so in diameter.  This is Rootless Duckweed Wolffia arrhiza, the smallest known flowering plant on Earth. In the UK this tiny rootless plant floats on ponds and ditches as small, pure patches or scattered among other floating duckweeds, mostly in grazing marshes, such as the Somerset and Gwent Levels and the Kent marshes. In the UK reproduction is by vegetative budding but in other parts of the world minute flowers are produced - hard to imagine! 

And if you look really closely you might just be able to see some equally tiny yellowish springtails sitting on the fronds!

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