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Eichhornia - (C.Mart.)Solms.

Common Name Water Hyacinth, Common water hyacinth
Family Pontederiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-11
Known Hazards Eating the plant, which is reported to contain HCN, alkaloid, and triterpenoid, may induce itching[269]. Fresh plants contain prickly crystals[269]. Plants sprayed with 2,4-D may accumulate lethal doses of nitrates[269].
Habitats Water courses[144]. Moist and boggy areas at elevations of 200 - 1500 metres in Nepal[272].
Range Tropics. Naturalized in central and southern Portugal[50].
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Eichhornia Water Hyacinth, Common water hyacinth

Eichhornia Water Hyacinth, Common water hyacinth


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Bloom Color: Blue, Lavender. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Eichhornia is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate. It is in flower from May to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


E. speciosa.


Edible Uses

Young leaves and petioles - cooked[144, 177, 272]. Virtually tasteless[144, 177]. Said to be used as a carotene-rich table vegetable in Formosa. Javanese sometimes cook and eat the green parts and inflorescence[269]. Flower spikes - cooked[144, 177].

Medicinal Uses

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None known

Other Uses

Water hyacinths are potentially an excellent source of biomass. Through an anaerobic fermentation process, polluted hyacinths can be converted to the natural gas methane - a costly process that may become more economical as supplies of underground natural gas are depleted[269]. Dried and cleansed plants can be used as fertilizer and plant mulch[144, 269]. Eventually, living aquatic plants might serve aboard long-distance manned spacecraft, absorbing wastes and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, then being themselves converted into food[269]. The plant can be cultivated for use in wastewater treatment, and can be incorporated into a system where the biomass is harvested for fuel production[269]. Since this biomass is a by-product of wastewater treatment, it has a positive environmental impact, and thus poses no threat as competitor to food, feed, or fibre-producing plants[269]. Wilted water hyacinth, mixed with earth, cow dung, and woodashes in the Chinese compost fashion, can yield useful compost in just two months[269]. Although potential yields are incredible, so are the costs of removal or attempted eradication of this water weed. Standing crops have been estimated to produce 100-120 tonnes per hectare per year[269].. Under ideal conditions, each plant can produce 248 offspring in 90 days[269]. Water hyacinth roots naturally absorb pollutants, including such toxic chemicals as lead, mercury, and strontium 90 (as well as some organic compounds believed to be carcinogenic) in concentrations 10,000 times that in the surrounding water[269]. In Africa, fresh plants are used as cushions in canoes and to plug holes in charcoal sacks[269].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container. 240, 200 Prefers growing in a sunny but cool pool[260]. Water Hyacinth is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 82 to 270cm, an annual temperature range of 21.1 to 27.2°C and an estimated pH in the range of 5.0 to 7.5[269]. The leaves are killed by frost, and plants cannot tolerate water temperatures in excess of 34°C[269]. This species is not very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about 0°c[260]. It requires greenhouse protection over winter in Britain[1]. Plants can be grown outdoors in the warmer parts of the year and then be potted up in moist compost during long spells of cold weather[260]. A very invasive weed of water courses in the tropics[260], causing great environmental problems in many areas where it has become naturalized. Subsistence farmers in Bangladesh face disaster when rafts of water hyacinth weighing up to 300 tonnes per hectare float over their rice paddies. As the floods recede, the weeds remain on the germinating rice, thus killing it[269]. Engineers have estimated that the Panama Canal would be impassable within three years without continuous aquatic weed control measures[269]. Azotobacter chroococcum, a Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, may be concentrated around the bases of the petioles but doesn't fix Nitrogen unless the plant is suffering extreme Nitrogen-deficiency[269]. Special Features:Not North American native, Invasive, Wetlands plant.


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Seed - Seeds can tolerate submersion or desiccation for 15 years and still germinate[269]. Scarification, but not light, may be required for germination[269].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Eichhornia crassipesWater Hyacinth, Common water hyacinth20


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