The seamed, gray trunk of a water tupelo highlighted by a shaft of sunlight on Merchants Millpond, NC.
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Floating duckweed, among the world’s smallest flowering plants, floats on Merchants Millpond, turning the surface green, while a single bright plant flowers at the furrowed base of a bald cypress.
Through the spring and summer, duckweed is kept afloat by air trapped between its cells. As fall progresses, the plant collects more starch in its leaves, filling up the air pockets, increasing leaves’ density. Eventually, the plant becomes so heavy it sinks.
But in the spring the duckweed begins to rise again. The older, heavier leaves remain submerged but provide starch to drive the growth of younger, more buoyant sprigs.
The seasons on Merchants Millpond aren’t represented just by the birth and death of leaves on the cypress and tupelo trees, but the rising and sinking of duckweed from the depths.
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