Say hello to Wolffia globosa, a species of duckweed that is considered the world's smallest flowering plant. Wolffia globosa contains an abundance of nutrition, boasting all the essential amino acids, bioavailable vitamin B12, omega 3 fats, and a host of antioxidants and minerals.
In this article, I will introduce you to all you need to know about Wolffia globosa and how you can incorporate it into different recipes.
- What exactly is Wolffia globosa?
- Wolffia Globosa History
- Wolffia Globosa could have big benefits for your health
- Wolffia has Bioavailable Vitamin B12 absorbed well by humans
- National Library of medicine trials
- Wolffia Cultivation
- Health Risks of Consuming Wolffia
- What does Wolffia taste, look and act like?
- How to incorporate Wolffia Globosa into recipes?
- Wolffia recipes by The Holistic Chef Academy
- Where to buy Wolffia (Duckweed)
- FAQ Wolffia globosa
- More plant-based proteins to discover
What exactly is Wolffia globosa?
Wolffia is a plant that may be small yet holds a ton of possibilities for your health, your nutrition, and the environment.
It is a close relative of water lentils or common duckweed, but Wolffia is the
smallest, most specialized genus in the duckweed family. In Thailand, it is
known as kai naam or phum.
- The world's smallest flowering plant
- It's rootless and stemless
- It floats in water
- It grows extremely fast (2-3 days)
Wolffia Globosa History
Wolffia globosa is native to Southeast Asia, but related species are also found
in other parts of the world. It grows in calm bodies of water and serves as
nutritious food for a number of species in the ecosystem.
For centuries, Wolffia has been known in Southeast Asia as a vegetable with
health benefits, due to its ability to take up nutrients and synthesize a wealth
of phytochemicals. In the North of Thailand, ''Kai Naam'' features in many local recipes.
Wolffia Globosa could have big benefits for your health
As Wolffia globosa is so nutrient-rich, this little green plant can have a surprisingly significant impact on your health.
Wolffia nutrition exceeds other superfoods in many ways. It's a great source of:
- Vitamin A, C, E, K
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3 (Niacin) B5, B6, B12
- Folate, beta carotene
- Lutein, zeaxanthin
- Phosphorus, potassium
- Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc
- PUFA's, Omega 3, omega 6
The Best Plant-Based Protein?
Protein content by dry weight:
- Wolffia globosa 40%
- Soy 36%
- Lentils 24%
- Quinoa 14%
Wolffia has an amino acid profile that matches meat protein.
- A complete amino acid profile
- High BCAA
- Easily digestible
- Lean protein (9:1 protein:energy ratio) with no cholesterol and with minimum carbohydrates
Wolffia has Bioavailable Vitamin B12 absorbed well by humans
This is a gamechanger for plant foods, as it's generally understood that Vitamin B12 is only available from animal-based foods.
Amazingly, Wolffia also possesses bioavailable vitamin B12, making it one of the few non-animal sources of the vitamin. Bacteria and some fungi are the only lifeforms we know of that produce biologically active B12.
To find B12 in the tissues of plants hints that it was either taken up by the plant or somehow produced in the plants. (Like how B12 producing bacteria are in animal host's guts for instance).
The poor soil conditions in modern days have led to a significant decline in B12-
producing bacteria around plant roots. However, it has been known that the Wolffia genus has a symbiotic relationship with many bacteria in the aquatic environment.
With Wolffia being such a prolific water plant, it is an
abundant and natural source of vitamin B12.
Here is the full scientific study and report on the Vitamin B12 availability in Wolffia
National Library of medicine trials
A randomized controlled trial on Wolffia globosa - Mankai strain
Wolffia naturally grows on the surface of calm, freshwaters such as ponds, lakes, and marshes. It is a very tiny, oval-shaped plant with no leaves, stems, or roots. The body of the plant, a transparent green frond, is less than a millimeter wide.
Health Risks of Consuming Wolffia
There are no reported health risks associated with consuming Wolffia globosa.
It has been approved as safe for consumption in several countries including the USA.
However, as Wolffia grows in water, the plant may be in direct contact with impurities and contaminants in the water source. The farming and cultivation methods greatly impact the overall quality and nutritional content.
It's advised to consume Wolffia from a trusted source, where uncontaminated water is used for semi-closed cultivation systems and the bacterial contamination is routinely monitored.
Washing fresh Wolffia
Wolffia must be cleaned thoroughly, preferably by ozonized water, and kept refrigerated after harvest.
Wolffia harbors the natural flora of microbial organisms, after about 3-4 days these microbes may increase beyond the recommended levels, so cooking is recommended.
If you wish to eat raw Wolffia, use a high-quality product from a trusted source and shortly after harvest.
Raw consumption is not recommended for sensitive individuals such as children and those with impaired immune or digestive functions.
I cook Wolffia by pouring over boiling water, leave to sit for 2 minutes, then strain and stop the cooking process by refreshing in cold or iced water.
What does Wolffia taste, look and act like?
Wolffia has a neutral flavor that lends itself to a multitude of culinary applications. The vivid rich-green-chlorophyll color brings any dish to life. It has a light breadcrumb-like texture.
When stirred into liquids, it acts like caviar, giving a beautiful finish to sauces and dressings.
Adding Wolffia to smoothies and purees provides natural green color to the recipe without much of a taste, which allows for the chef's creativity to match with any other ingredient.
How to incorporate Wolffia Globosa into recipes?
It's relatively easy to incorporate Wolffia into different recipes. With a neutral taste, there are limitless possibilities for adding this wonderous superfood to boost your nutrition intake.
Here are a few ideas:
- Smoothies bowls
- Sushi rolls
- Vietnamese rice paper rolls
Wolffia recipes by The Holistic Chef Academy
Wolffia Globosa B12 Booster Balls
Wolffia Globosa Cheesecake
Wolffia Green Protein Smoothie Bowl
I have many more Wolffia globosa recipes under development. You may subscribe to my weekly newsletter to keep up to date with new releases.
You may like to join Life On Plants meal prep member club to access exclusive recipes and menu collections from The Holistic Chef Academy.
Where to buy Wolffia (Duckweed)
I can recommend a great supply in Thailand. You may contact Flo Wolffia for availability and delivery.
FAQ Wolffia globosa
Fresh Wolffia can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. Raw consumption of refrigerated fresh Wolffia is recommended within 3 days of harvesting, only if it has been cultivated in a semi-closed system and thoroughly cleaned with ozonized water. Raw consumption is not recommended for toddlers and those with weakened immune systems. Beyond 3 days, fresh Wolffia should be cooked before consumption.
Beyond 3 days, fresh Wolffia should be cooked. To preserve it for longer than this, you can cook-chill or cook-freeze, divide it into smaller portions, and put it in the fridge or freezer. Cook-chill will last around 1 month and cook-freeze can last around 6 months or more. Defrost in small quantities or blend frozen cubes into smoothies as needed. Do not refreeze the thawed product. High-quality Wolffia should have a very mild to almost undetectable odor.
It has a neutral taste that lends itself well to limitless culinary applications.
Wolffia has been consumed for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia without any reported concerns. So far, there is no scientific evidence that Wolffia consumption has any negative consequences. In contrast to other duckweed species, Wolffia globosa does not contain high levels of calcium oxalate crystals. Wolffia is gluten-free and does not contain the most common allergenic proteins, so it should be regarded as hypoallergenic.
I have a yearly infestation of this plant on my pond. It is a remarkable plant that can reproduce amazingly fast. I can scoop this plant from my pond in litterally wheelbarrow loads. I would like to start eating it. What is the flavor?
Hi Adam, Duckweed are remarkable plants indeed. Be careful, because not all strains of duckweed are edible. To consume it safely, it must be grown in clean water. I would not advise eating wild duckweed! I expect more farms will start to grow it commercially over the coming years.
I wish I had that problem. I have been checking out ponds for Wolffia. I have been looking all over for it. I'm located on long island in NY. Not sure where you are located but I'd definitely consider a trip to get some. I do travel. Great article. I would love to get a hold of some. I do have lemna minor.
Can you recommend a source in the United States?
Hi Kim. At this moment, I don't know where to source in the USA. Hopefully, it will be available soon. Jamie
Still looking for a reliable local source of Wolffia globsa in the USA.