Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

Eichornia crassipes
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Water Hyacinth, Credit: W. Robles, Mississippi State University, Bugwood.org

Status in Squamish:

PREVENTION-WATCHLIST

Status in Whistler:

PREVENTION-WATCHLIST

Status in Pemberton:

PREVENTION-WATCHLIST
Vectors of Spread:
Synonyms

Common:

  • Floating Water Hyacinth
  • Common Water Hyacinth  
ID Characteristics

General: Water Hyacinth is an aquatic herbaceous evergreen perennial in the Pontederiaceae family. 

Flowers: Showy flower spikes are composed of 4- 15 individual flowers. Each flower has 6 purple to pink petals. The upper petal displays a darkened spot with a yellow center. 

Stems: Are bulbous and spongy, growing up to 50 cm long. 

Leaves: Kidney-shaped leaves with inflated bases (air bladders) form free-floating rosettes. They are thick, waxy and glossy. Leaves are 10 – 20 cm wide.

Seeds: Thin-walled, ribbed capsules contain as many as 450 egg-shaped seeds.

Roots: Long, dark purple to black roots dangle below the rosette. Roots are highly divided and appear feather-like. As much as 50% of Water Hyacinth’s biomass is found in the roots. 

Similar Species

Non-native: 

Pickerelweed (Creative Commons)

Pickerelweed (Creative Commons)

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) is a non-native aquatic plant present in British Columbia. Relative to Water Hyacinth, it has smaller leaves, forming a long, slim spike. In addition, Pickerelweed leaves do not have air bladders and do not form dense mats.

 

 

 

 

 

Invasive:

Water Lettuce close-up, credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

Water Lettuce close-up, credit: Forest and Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) is an invasive aquatic plant present in British Columbia. Water Lettuce can be distinguished by its lettuce head-shaped rosette and inconspicuous white flowers. Moreover, it lacks a bulbous stem.

Report

Please report any sighting of Water Hyacinth by clicking here.

Habitat and Origin

Water Hyacinth is native to South America and was introduced to the United States in the 1880s. 

The aquatic plant favours nutrient-rich waters and warm climates. It frequently inhabits shallow ponds, wetlands and marshes or slow-flowing waterways, lakes and rivers. In the Pacific Northwest, it is often planted outdoors in pools and water features but is not considered winter hardy. 

Current Distribution
Water Hyacinth Species Distribution

Water Hyacinth Species Distribution

Propagation & Vectors of Spread

Water Hyacinth reproduces prolifically by vegetative means by forming daughter plants that sprout from stolons (underground stems). To a lesser degree, it reproduces by seed, though Water Hyacinth seeds may germinate after being dormant for up to 28 years. In ideal conditions, Water Hyacinth can double its population within 2 weeks. 

Water Hyacinth disperses primarily through vegetative reproduction. However, seeds are also dispersed by wind, water and human activities. In addition, it is commonly sold at nurseries for its showy flowers. 

Ecological, Economic, & Health Impacts

Ecological: 

  • Outcompetes and displaces native vegetation.
  • Reduces biodiversity.
  • Reduces oxygen levels in the water, altering the entire aquatic ecosystem.
  • Decreases overall water quality by releasing heavy metals and other pollutants.
  • Creates a favourable habitat for mosquitos.

Economic:

  • Forms dense floating mats that slow water flow and block irrigation canals, increasing maintenance costs.
  • Dense mats also disrupt recreational activities.
What Can I Do?

Water Hyacinth is NOT currently found in the Sea to Sky Corridor, so the best approach to controlling its spread is by PREVENTION.

This is a high-priority invasive species for the Province of BC, and it is included in the Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) program.

If you see Water Hyacinth, please report it.

References