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Water Hyacinth

Water hyacinth, Eichhornia crassipes, plant, photo by nyis.org

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Common Name: Water hyacinth
Scientific Name: Eichhornia crassipes
Origin: South America

Description

Water hyacinth is a free-floating, perennial, aquatic plant. In climates where it is unable to survive the winter, water hyacinth will grow as an annual. Its leaves are round, curved, glossy bright green and float above the water’s surface on bulbous stalks. Its dark purple to black feathery roots hang in the water below the plant. Water hyacinth’s showy purple flowers grow on a spike that rises approximately a foot above the leaves. It is commonly used as a water garden plant.

Habitat

Water hyacinth can invade all types of freshwater habitats.

Threat

Water hyacinth can reproduce rapidly, doubling its population in a week. It forms dense mats on the surface of the water, making boating, fishing and recreational water sports impossible. These mats also block photosynthesis, reducing the oxygen level in the water below, decreasing the numbers and diversity of aquatic species. The reduction of open water also threatens waterfowl. Water hyacinth even provides ideal breeding habitat for mosquitoes.

Management

Individual plants can be easily hand-pulled. Water hyacinth infestations can be reduced by mechanical harvesters or herbicides approved for aquatic use. Several fungi and insect species are also used as bio-controls.

Distribution

Early Detection