THE development of new foods is vital to the needs of the rapidly expanding population in Asia. But apart from the necessity of being competitive in market price, they must be acceptable to the human palate, a requirement that has often frustrated attempts to introduce new foods. In this light, the improvement of production and processing of a commodity which is currently marketed for direct human consumption but on a small and inefficient scale has several advantages. Such a commodity is the aquatic plant, Wolffia arrhiza Wimm., Lemnaceae, known to have been used as a vegetable by the Burmese, Laotians and the people of northern Thailand for many generations. The local Thai name for the plant, “khai-nam”, may be literally translated as eggs of the water and suggests the oval shape of the plant (length 1.5 mm, width 1.0 mm). Khai-nam is generally regarded as a poor people's food and has attracted little attention as a potentially significant source of human food. The species also occurs in India1, but no report has been made pertaining to its application as a food source in that country.
Similar content being viewed by others
Fischer, C. E. C., in Flora of the Presidency of Madras, Part IX (edit. by Gamble, J. S.) (Adlard and Son, London, 1931).
Sakdisuwan, S., thesis, Chulalongkorn Univ., Bangkok (1967).
Vacharabhaya, M., thesis, Chulalongkorn Univ., Bangkok (1969).
Composition of Foods, Agricultural Handbook No. 8 (United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Washington, 1963).
Production Yearbook, 23 (Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 1969).
About this article
Cite this article
BHANTHUMNAVIN, K., MCGARRY, M. Wolffia arrhiza as a Possible Source of Inexpensive Protein. Nature 232, 495 (1971). https://doi.org/10.1038/232495a0
This article is cited by
Daily Intake of Lemna minor or Spinach as Vegetable Does Not Show Significant Difference on Health Parameters and Taste Preference
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (2022)
Applied Biological Chemistry (2021)
How fast can angiosperms grow? Species and clonal diversity of growth rates in the genus Wolffia (Lemnaceae)
Acta Physiologiae Plantarum (2015)
Genetic characterization and barcoding of taxa in the genus Wolffia Horkel ex Schleid. (Lemnaceae) as revealed by two plastidic markers and amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP)
Dietary Wolffia arrhiza meal as a substitute for soybean meal: its effects on the productive performance and egg quality of laying Japanese quails
Tropical Animal Health and Production (2012)