Water Hyacinth

picture of Water HyacinthEichhornia crassipes

Family:
Pontederiaceae

Lifecycle:
Perennial

Native or Introduced:
Introduced

Nutrient Removal Rating:
High (at high concentrations)

Wildlife Value:
Low

Invasiveness:
High

Rooted or Floating:
Floating

Site Requirements:
Full sun

Maximum Water Depth:
n/a

Plant Description:
Water Hyacinth is an herbaceous perennial plant that is typically free-floating. They are generally a few inches in height. Reproduction most often occurs by vegetative means through stolons. This reproductive pattern results in the formation of large, dense mats.

Leaves are green with rounded blades (1.5-4 in) and air-filled petioles that connect to the basal rosette. Most of the plant has a leathery texture. Leaf blades are elliptical to ovate, and veins are parallel. Roots are purple and fibrous.

Water Hyacinth produces flower stems that are initially erect but bend over following flowering. Flower spikes contain 5–20 blue flowers that open individually in the first 2 hours following sunrise and last for a single day. Winged seeds are produced.

Introduced in 1884, it has since become a major invasive concern in tropical areas (Florida noxious weed). Currently, Water Hyacinth is known to be present in most areas of the US where temperatures are rarely below freezing.

Sources:

  • Audlbach-Smith, C.A., deKozlowski, S.J. 1996. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
  • Flora of North America (see link below)

Additional reading: