Origin: South America
Impacts: Water hyacinth is a floating plant that can
grow up to three feet tall. It grows extremely fast, doubling
its population every 12 days. It forms thick mats over waterways,
blocking boaters and preventing swimming and fishing.
The mats of plants also block sunlight from entering the
water, shading submerged plants. The thick mats also crowd
out other aquatic plants. Water hyacinth uses up most of the
available oxygen in water, killing fish.
The United States isn't the only country struggling with
this plant; it is a global problem currently affecting approximately
Currently, Florida has water hyacinth under control. It is,
and will continue to be, a constant struggle, as this plant
could easily take over waterways again.
Florida, Louisiana and Texas spend approximately $11 million
every year controlling this plant.
Photo courtesy of South Florida Water Management District