Photographer:Josh Hillman Source: FloridaNature.org, Bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY-NC 3.0
The anchored water hyacinth (Eichhornia azurea) has distinct leaves that are round, glossy, and green measuring 10 m in diameter. This plant produces large flowers that are blue or purple with yellow markings similar to lilacs.
Anchored water hyacinths form dense water beds weighing nearly 200 tons per acre when healthy. As a result of the thick sheet formed on the water surface, submerged native plants do not receive necessary light for survival. This causes native plant death and a depleted oxygen supply for underwater ecosystems to thrive. Anchored water hyacinths serve as a vector for disease by providing a habitat for mosquitoes and parasitic flatworms. The water hyacinth also negatively affects recreational activities by clogging waterways, preventing swimming, boating, and fishing.
This plant is perennial and can reproduce via daughter plants or seeds. Known for producing dense flower beds, the water hyacinth has been recorded to produce up to 5,000 seeds from a single plant. Two plants have been recorded to produce 1,200 daughter plants in only four months. Pieces of the flower bed can break off from wind, current, or animal feeding and be transported to a new location.
Habitat: This aquatic plant is very hearty and can become established in warm bodies of water.
The anchored water hyacinth was first introduced to the United States through New Orleans in the late 1800's. This plant became well established by the 1990's due to high use for ornamentation in private ponds and pools.
Central and South America
U.S. Present: AL, AR, CA, FL, GA, HI, IN, KY, MO, MS, NC, SC, TX, VA, VT
Texas: Southeast Texas near the gulf coast
Floating water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes)
The anchored water hyacinth is listed as a federally noxious weed, therefore preventing further sale and distribution of the plant. If a population has already been established some effective methods of control involve chopping the plant to prevent spread or aquatic herbicides can be used, which is a more expensive alternative. Biological controls have been introduced in some areas using water hyacinth weevil, water hyacinth moth, and native moths; all of which are known to feed on the anchored water hyacinth.
To prevent establishment in your area:
- Rinse plant fragments from boats, propellers, and trailers
- Drain water from boats before leaving the area
- Rinse plant fragments and mud from boots, wading gear, and equipment before leaving the area
- Avoid releasing aquarium or garden water into the wild by sealing it in plastic bags prior to disposal
- Use native plants when possible in private ponds and pools
Google Search: Eichhornia azurea
Google Images: Eichhornia azurea
NatureServe Explorer: Eichhornia azurea
USDA Plants: Eichhornia azurea
Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States: Eichhornia azurea
Bugwood Network Images: Eichhornia azurea
Barreto, R., R. Charudattan, A. Pomella, and R. Hanada. 2000. Biological control of neotropical aquatic weeds with fungi. Crop Protection 19(8-10): 697-703.
Cordo, Hugo A., and C. J. Deloach. 1978. Host Specificity of Sameodes albiguttalis in Argentina, a Biological Control Agent for Waterhyacinth. Environmental Entomology 7(2): 322-328.
Deloach, C. J., and H. A. Cordo. 1978. Life History and Ecology of the Moth Sameodes albiguttalis, a Candidate for Biological Control of Waterhyacinth. Environmental Entomology 7(2): 309-321.
Forno, I. W. 1981. Effects of Neochetina eichhornia on the growth of waterhyacinth. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 19: 27-31.
Zettler, F. W., and T. E. Freeman. 1972. Plant pathogens as biocontrols of aquatic weeds. Annual Review of Plant Pathology 10: 455-470.