Azolla Cultivation at Stockholm University [December, 2017]

The Azolla Cooking and Cultivation Project was initiated in 2010 after artist and researcher Erik Sjödin was introduced to the water fern Azolla by John Larsson who at the time was doing research at the Department of Botany at Stockholm University on the genome evolution of the cyanobacteria in Azolla. The Azolla cultivation in the concrete trough seen above is one of the cultivations in the greenhouse where Erik first saw Azolla growing in 2010. However, this photo was taken a few years later, in April 2014.

In 2015 the Department of Ecology, Environment and Plant Sciences (formerly the Department of Botany) moved to a brand new building with a new roof top greenhouse. Initially the Azolla was kept in temporary plastic boxes, as seen above. From there they were eventually moved into new permanent troughs, similar in size to the concrete ones in the old greenhouse but made of steel, as pictured below.

Azolla at Stockholm University 2017

[Azolla Cultivation at Stockholm University 2017. Photo: Erik Sjödin.]

Unfortunately the Azolla cultivations in the steel troughs has not been working particularly well. This could be due to a number of factors, most likely nutrient and light conditions. However the researchers at Stockholm University were speculating that it could be due to the steel troughs, since the conditions asides from this appear to be rather similar to the old greenhouse where the Azolla was doing much better.

Azolla Cultivation at Stockholm University 2017. Photo: Erik Sjödin.

[Azolla Cultivation at Stockholm University 2017. Photo: Erik Sjödin.]

However, since Stockholm University are not doing any research that requires large quantities of Azolla their priority is mostly to keep some Azolla around for students, along with other aquatic plants, and not to optimize the growth conditions for Azolla in particular. When the Azolla is not growing well they rescue it by placing it on soil that is soaked through with water. This generally re-invigorate the Azolla enough so that it can be planted back in the troughs.