1) Plant History & General Information:
a) Scientific & Other Names: Eichhoria crassipes
b) Region of Origin: Native to South America but has naturalized much of the Southern U.S.
c) General Information: Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial plant that can grow to a height of 3 feet. The dark green leave blades are circular to elliptical in shape attached to a spongy, inflated petiole.
Underneath the water is a thick, heavily branched, dark fibrous root system. The water hyacinth has striking light blue to violet flowers located on a terminal spike.
2) Plant Uses:
a) As Food: The plant is used as a carotene-rich table vegetable in Taiwan. Javanese sometimes cook and eat the green parts and inflorescence
b) As Medicine: In Kedah (Java), the flowers are used for medicating the skin of horses. The species is a “tonic.
c) Other Uses: In East Africa, water hyacinths from Lake Victoria are used to make furniture, handbags and rope. The plant is also used as animal feed and organic fertilizer although there is controversy stemming from the high alkaline pH value of the fertilizer.Though a study found water hyacinths of very limited use for paper production, they are nonetheless being used for paper production on a small scale. Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macroinvertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus” for many aquatic invertebrates.
3) Growing Instructions
a) Growing: Water hyacinth is a free-floating plant that gets its nutrients from the water from dangling roots. The plant reproduces by seeds and vegetatively through daughter plants that form on rhizomes and produce dense plant beds. In one study, two plants produced 1,200 daughter plants in four months. By this mechanism, water hyacinth can form impenetrable mats of floating vegetation. Individual plants break off the mat and can be dispersed by wind and water currents. A single plant can produce as many as 5,000 seeds and waterfowl eat and transport seeds to new locations. Seedlings are common on mud banks exposed by low water levels.
b) Best time to Harvest: n/a
c) Sunlight Requirements: Full Shade, Partial Shade, Full Sunlight
d) Soil Requirements: n/a
e) Propagation: A water hyacinth is a self-propagating plant that doubles its mass every six to 14 days which will quickly take over your pond if you don’t remove unwanted plants. So maintenance is our focus here.
f) Controlling Spread: When not controlled, water hyacinth will cover lakes and ponds entirely; this dramatically impacts water flow, blocks sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, and starves the water of oxygen, often killing fish (or turtles). The plants also create a prime habitat for mosquitos, the classic vectors of disease, and a species of snail known to host a parasitic flatworm which causes schistosomiasis (snail fever) Directly blamed for starving subsistence farmers in Papua New Guinea, water hyacinth remains a major problem where effective control programs are not in place. Water hyacinth is often problematic in man-made ponds if uncontrolled, but can also provide a food source for goldfish, keep water clean and help to provide oxygen to man-made ponds. Thin the plants when they cover more than 60 percent of the water surface by removing any excess, dead or unwanted plants about once a week (Spring/Summer, bi-weekly in Fall/Winter) to control their spread. Place unwanted hyacinth plants in the other garden beds as organic fertilizer remove 50 percent of the tiny lily pads to allow sunlight to roots and place into the Eco-toilet aquarium to feed fish.
g) Difficulties with this plant: considered a highly problematic invasive species outside its native range
h) History of this Plant at Hedonisia: n/a
i) Location on Property: Garden C