Azolla Pinnata, Red Azolla, Water Fern, Duckweed or whatever you want to call it is a fern-like native that has been eaten by Aborigines of Australia for millenia, and is only now finding popularity in Asia and European cuisine.
Its colour changes at whim, from bright red maroon, to vivid green, depending on light and temperatures, but generally there is a bit of a mixture of both.
It has a crisp texture, quite like finely grated carrot and like Lemna Minor and Wolffia Arrhiza, it is normally eaten in salads, dumplings, fritters, omelettes and burgers.
It’s a very nutritious native plant that should be much more commonly used, as it grows so easily, tastes great, and has a much higher protein level than most vegetables, making it a great meat substitute and even more environmentally responsible than soy production.
Not only is it great for us humans, it has also proven itself time and time again as a cheap nutritious feed for goat, cattle, sheep, chicken, and surprise surprise – ducks!
Azolla varieties have been found to increase milk output in both cattle and goats, and can be used as 70% of the feed in a chook feed mix and 90% of a duck feed, producing fast growth and high egg yields.
Our chooks and guinea pigs will eat as much as I can give them, so I have a water drum set up next to the cage, and each day when I lock them up, I skim a couple handfuls off the top of the water, and chuck in for them.
Every day those couple handfuls are replaced as it grows so quickly, and as it forms a mat on the surface, it stops the mosquitoes from breeding. As a result, it’s great for cattle/horse/goat water troughs!
We find it great for our bees too, as they land on the azolla to access the water beneath.
They are also invaluable for fish breeding and mosquito management of ponds dams and lakes, especially in commercial fish production settings.
It’s a great supplemental feed for the parent fish, and it shelters the fry from both the parents and bird attack.
* This article originally appears in Fair Dinkum Seeds