Eichhornia crassipes

Pickerelweed Family [Pontederiaceae]

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24th Sept 2014, Leeds & L/pool Canal, Maghull, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The ovary has expended greatly into a green conker-like shape (prolate spheroid) to which is attached a large oval flap which acts as a sail when the fruit is free-floating (rather than amassed into a gathering as here). The wind can blow it a distance from where it was formed. These 'conkers' can form extenside floating 'mats'.

24th Sept 2014, Leeds & L/pool Canal, Maghull, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Each green 'conker' contains hundreds of seeds which are 1mm wide and 4mm long, enough to grow a whole lake-full of sibling plants (except here in the UK the climate is unsuitable unless it warms up even more).

Not to be semantically confused with : Hyacinthuss (Hyacinths) [it is not related to these, just has a partial resemblance]

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : The unique bulb with leaf-sail atop.

Water Hyacinth is a non-native plant which is grown by gardeners in ponds, and then thrown out into the wild when they realise it has completely taken over their pond. However, whatever still or slow-moving body of water into which Water Plantain is thrown, it will usually try to thrive. Pretty, it may be, but it is invasive in warmer parts of the World and forms extensive floating matts which block oxygen from dissolving in the water and prevent other aquatic plants and fish from thriving. However, in the UKs present climate it is unable to establish itself, unless, of course, our climate changes...

This year (2018) we have had at least 3 months of very hot (record breakingly hot) and almost rainless weather not only in certain parts of the UK, but over the whole of the Northern Hemisphere. The whole Northern Hemisphere has suffered record breaking temperatures for weeks on end which is unprecedented. Many wild fires have resulted both in the UK and in the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth.

It spreads very fast, quickly expanding its blanket-coverage of a body of water to the detriment of other species. It can also clone itself.

It looks like a Hyacinth, but it is not, belonging to a totally differing genus, Eichhornia. The under-water roots are long with black feathering.

It is a Metallophyte, an accumulator or heavy metals and can be used in the Phytoremediation of water contaminated by Lead, Mercury or Strontium-90, for instance. It will also absorb some toxic carcinogenic organic compounds, concentrating them by 10,000 fold. It will hyperaccumulate cadmium, chromium, mercury, and lead, but only accumulate zinc. It also absorbs uranium and caesium, but your Author doesn't know how well.

  Eichhornia crassipes  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Pontederiaceae  

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Eichhornia crassipes

Pickerelweed Family [Pontederiaceae]