Water Hyacinth, the Amazonian Invader!

Welcome back for Part Three of our Aquatic Plant Control blog series! This week our topic is water hyacinth.
Photo credit: Challiyan at Malayalam Wikipedia

What is water hyacinth? 

Water hyacinth is an aquatic plant which originates from the Amazon basin in South America. This plant is a type of free-floating perennial aquatic plant native to the sub-tropical and tropical regions of the Amazon basin and is also an invasive species in areas throughout the world.

Water hyacinth is denoted by its’ thick, broad, glossy leaves and its floating characteristics. These aquatic plants can grow almost four feet off the water’s surface, and extend below the surface with purple feather-like roots. 

Photo credit: ConiferConifer from Japan
This invasive species reproduces quickly and, when it isn’t managed, the plant can rapidly cover the surface of a water body. This blocks sunlight from penetrating through the water column and leads to the die-off of native aquatic plants. The death of these native plants leads to an influx of bacteria that consume the decaying plant matter. These bacteria deplete the dissolved oxygen and available resources leading to the death of insects, fish, and other types of aquatic life. Furthermore, colonies of water hyacinth serve as habitats for mosquitos and snails carrying parasitic flatworms that can cause snail fever in humans. In addition to being a health risk, this invasive plant also interferes with boating, fishing, swimming, and shipping.

Water hyacinth has found its way into many countries around the world, including the United States. It was first brought to Louisiana at the World’s Fair in New Orleans back in 1884. The plant quickly spread across the waterways of Louisiana and is also found in Florida. The prevalence of water hyacinth in these waterways halted their use and became an economic concern as fish began to die off, and the gears of the shipping industry ground to a halt in these areas.

While chemical and biological methods have seen use throughout the years, one of the most common ways to mitigate the prevalence of water hyacinth on water bodies is through mechanical removal. The utilization of aquatic plant boom is one method used to contain, gather and remove these invasive aquatic plants from the water’s surface. The boom’s rugged design can withstand extended use in many water environments and can contain algae, duckweed, seaweed, trash or timber, in addition to water hyacinth. Learn more about aquatic weed control and containment on our Aquatic Plant Boom page at GEIWorks.com!

Stay tuned as we continue our Aquatic Plant Control blog series!

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