plant Easy level

Pontederia crassipes Mart.

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Water hyacinth, Common Water hyacinth

Pontederia crassipes is a floating aquatic plant with very showy purplish blue flowers. It is widespread as a wild plant in all subtropical areas of the world.

Leaves are thick, waxy, rounded, and glossy and rise well above the water surface on stalks. The leaves are broadly ovate to circular, 10-20 cm in diameter, with gently incurved, often undulate sides. Leaf veins are dense, numerous, fine and longitudinal. Leaf stalks are bulbous and spongy. The stalk is erect, to 50 cm long, and carries at the top a single spike of 8-15 showy flowers. The flowers have six petals, purplish blue or lavender to pinkish, the uppermost petal with a yellow, blue-bordered central splotch. Water hyacinth reproduces vegetatively by short runner stems (stolons) that radiate from the base of the plant to form daughter plants, and also reproduces by seed. Its roots are purplish black and feathery.

Native to: Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Brazil West-Central, Chile Central, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.

Introduced into: Alabama, Andaman Is., Angola, Arizona, Aruba, Assam, Azores, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Borneo, Burkina, Burundi, California, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Caroline Is., Cayman Is., Central African Repu, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Colorado, Comoros, Congo, Cook Is., Corse, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, East Himalaya, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Florida, France, Free State, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf States, Hainan, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, Illinois, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jawa, Kentucky, Kenya, Korea, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Leeward Is., Liberia, Louisiana, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Maldives, Mali, Marianas, Marquesas, Marshall Is., Mauritius, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mississippi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New South Wales, New York, New Zealand North, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norfolk Is., North Carolina, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Oman, Ontario, Palestine, Panamá, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Queensland, Rodrigues, Rwanda, Réunion, Samoa, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sicilia, Sierra Leone, Society Is., Solomon Is., South Australia, South Carolina, South China Sea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sumatera, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Texas, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad-Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Vanuatu, Victoria, Vietnam, Virginia, Western Australia, Windward Is., Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe.

Submitted by
Natasha Khardina
-15.3842754, -60.1234016
Geographical region
South America
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Baia Grande near Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade
Water body part
Marsh land
Water body course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Bahia, Brazil
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Least Concern (LC)
Listed in CITES

Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
22,5-35 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Plant form
Plant type
Plant size
30 cm
Plant growth rate
Plant light demand
Aquarium equipment

Pontederia crassipes can be grown in ornamental ponds, taking into account that it does not tolerate temperatures below 10°C, or even in an open aquarium, under condition that it does not shadow too much the underlying plants.

Plant care

Water hyacinth Pontederia crassipes prefers sunny positions, but adapts to any condition, even in the shade; the plants are completely floating on the watersurface, since the long black roots get their nourishment directly from the water column.

Water care

Nutrients and temperature are considered the strongest determinants for water hyacinth growth and reproduction.

It is also used very effectively in phytoremediation, particularly for the rhizofiltration of effluents contaminated by heavy metals. Pontederia crassipes is capable of bioconcentrating toxic metals such as Cr, Cu, Co, Ni, Zn, Pb, Cd, and As in its root system.

Comment by the expert

Note: former genus Eichhornia.

Due to its extremely fast growth, the weed has become the major floating water weed of tropical and subtropical regions. In the absence of natural enemies, the weed quickly becomes invasive, colonizing slow moving waters resulting in thick and extensive mats which degrade aquatic ecosystems and limit their utilization. These mats affect fisheries and related commercial activities, functioning of irrigation canals, navigation, hydroelectric programmes and tourism.

The spread of this invasive plant is difficult to manage and not easy to reverse. Its impact is not only loss of biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems but also economic development and human wellbeing. It supports as breeding ground for vectors and pests. Hand removal is most effective for small infestations while mechanical harvesting can be an effective tool for removing larger infestations. The best method to control water hyacinth is to prevent it from entering a water body. This can be through education programs that have proved to be an effective tool in preventing further spread into catchments by people for ornamental purposes.