Invasive Species: Water Hyacinth
Introduction | Valued by Some, Hated by Others | Unique Physical Features |
Valued by Some, Hated by Others
Water gardeners and some pond owners deliberately introduce water hyacinths because they are beautiful when in bloom. Many nurseries sell these plants and encourage their cultivation. Others gather them from ditches and bayous throughout the state.
Eventually, water gardeners learn by experience that this plant can ruin ponds by eventually taking over the entire water surface. By blocking the sunlight to the fish and plants, the water hyacinth effectively starves submerged plants, leading to decay and reduction of food and oxygen for aquatic life. Eventually, nothing lives beneath the surface, and the pond becomes bog-like.
Recreational boaters and anglers consider water hyacinth to be a pest. The dense mats of plants sometimes obstruct navigation for outboard motor-propelled boats, and dense growth degrades living conditions for an angler’s quarry – bream, bass and other fresh water fish. Each time a boat cuts through a mat of water hyacinth, it breaks plants away. The broken plant can start a new colony of water hyacinths in the same lake, or it might be accidentally carried by the outboard motor or boat trailer to a new location.
The state of Louisiana annually sprays large infestations of water hyacinth at a cost of about $11 per acre.
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