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Eichhornia crassipes - (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    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Eichhornia crassipes Water Hyacinth, Common water hyacinth

Eichhornia crassipes 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 crassipes 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: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


E. speciosa.

Plant Habitats


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
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].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Biomass  Pollution

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].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

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

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 NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment

Eichhornia crassipes

Administrator .

Mar 13 2011 12:00AM

all over the world you can see the water hyacinth floating and considered as a menace.After many years of reseach we have invented a process by which water hyacinth can be processed to produce 98% methane gas which can be converted to electricity. One production plant can supply 24000 houses with electrical power and bio gas for home use and industry. We also get two bio products- organic fertilizer and organic pesticide. All from Water hyacinth weeds. Kariba lake which is the biggest man made lake in the world is infested with abundant water hyacinth weeds and lake Victoria too in Uganda and Tanzania. Governments tried to kill them with chemicals by spraying from air which is costly and also the chemicals contaminated the Tiger fish in the lake with cancerous deposits which is the food for Zambians and Zimbabweans (revealed to me by the then minister of agriculture, Zambia). Bio gas and electricity from water hyacinth is cheaper for the poor, lowincome and the middlle class families and also job creating. For complete details contact me. Dr.Y.Chellappa.MD Director for Southern African region. Email: [email protected]. Water Hyascinth is useful for developing countries and even for USA especially for the state of Florida. I am based in USA Cell 240 271 9570



Botanical References


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Readers comment

Job Isaac Jondiko   Fri Oct 12 2007

Iam very thrilled with the prospect of using water hyacinth as asource of incime for poor resource poeple in Kenya. Water hyacinth is now abundant in Lake Victoria. There are women groups who can harvest, process under reasonable quality standards of water hyacinth for exports. They shall be able to earn aliving from this resource which noone is using. The questions are:1. where is a viable market.2. Are there standard for processing the raw water hyacinth for such a market.3. Can you connect me with the market operators I am PROF. JOB ISAAC JONDIKO. MASENO UNIVERSITY P.O. BOX 333 MASENO, KENYA

Possible utilization of water hyacith in nutrition and industry

Atanu kumar Das   Sun Feb 8 2009

chemical compoition should be added here.

farah fathima   Wed Jan 6 2010

it is very good..............

"METHOD OF PREPARATION: Leaves boiled or fried, young bulbous bottoms fried, flowers boiled or candied. All can still make some people itch after cooking, try cautiously. ...deep fried with butter, or steamed like mustard greens with a bit of bacon or pork fat." ... "Here is a plant that can feed you again in two weeks. That’s not a bad return if you’re starving or need green vegetables for a balanced diet. "...A water oxegynator... A good habitat for insects that fish feed on. "Water hyacinth is a good cattle fodder, chicken feed, mulch. dry fuel, mushroom growing medium, cigar wrappers, and fertilizer. It is also a fantastic biomass for making alternative fuels. Florida should be thinking of water hyacinths as “green” oil, Florida Tea, a sustainable source of fuel. Instead, it’s a “weed” they don’t know what to do with. The water hyacinth’s leaves are a source of vitamins A, B1 and B2 and betacarotene. They contain 18.7% protein, 17.1% fiber and 36.6% carbohydrates."   Feb 22 2014 12:00AM

Eat The Weeds

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