Weird "green carpet" returns to Wigan's canal network - what is it?

Parts of Wigan’s canal network have gone decidedly green – the surface in some places looking more like a snooker table than water.
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But experts say we shouldn’t be worried about this: it’s not a toxic invader and it’s not pollution.

In fact it’s a plant called duckweed which can spread suddenly and prolifically in certain weather conditions.

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Duck weed on the canal near to Wigan PierDuck weed on the canal near to Wigan Pier
Duck weed on the canal near to Wigan Pier
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Wigan last had a particularly strong dose of it back in 2019.

It is the world’s smallest flowering plant, which multiplies rapidly in hot weather. It is not harmful to humans or animals – in fact ducks, geese and some fish like to eat it – and the Canal and River Trust has previously encouraged everyone to continue enjoying the big outdoors along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, although it has urged people with young children or dogs to take extra care when they see the weed in case they mistake it for grass.

In fact, duckweed could become a super-food craze of the future, with current research investigating it as a new source of protein for humans!

The Canal and River Trust deals with such issues if they get out of hand. For more details on the trust’s work visit its website here.

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