Last year, on an impulse, I picked up a clump of water hyacinth on our way back home from a picnic. I'd never really looked at the blooms from close quarters before. But ever since blooms appeared on the clump--well, I can't get enough of them!
It's easy to understand why plant collectors in the 19th century started using them as ornamental pond plants. These delicate blooms last for a day and they do hold your attention! As you can see from the picture that they have a beautiful pattern and the topmost petals have a yellow spot.
A native of the Amazon Basin, its botanical name is Eichhornia crassipes. Ever since these seemingly innocuous plants were used as pond ornamentals, they spread rapidly in places like Africa and Southern USA. In all the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world, it is considered to be one of the worst weeds! It proliferates across lakes and rivers, ditches and backwaters. It has choked rivers and lakes in Asia and Africa. In India, the problem is no less.
The birth of the "Blue Devil"--another name that the plant is known by.
With inflated petioles and a mass of hair-like roots, the water hyacinth forms a dense mat on the surface, doubling the area every two to three months. New daughter plants are formed on floating stolons which grow from the mother plants. The leaves block out the sun smothering the life below. Any kind of water activity such as fishing or boating becomes impossible. Its high demand for oxygen deprives all other marine life of the gas and this leads to depletion of fish stocks.
I checked a few sites and it's interesting to know how different countries are handling this aquatic menace. The introduction of one of its natural enemies, a root- eating beetle should help, to some extent.
I have mine in an earthen container where it certainly won't be allowed to run riot! Thoughts of "Weed!" do come to mind but it's good to enjoy the blooms--even if they belong to the plant that is abhorred in so many countries around the world!
Glory be to God for dappled things- For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings; Landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow, and plough; And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim. All things counter, original, spare, strange; Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The first flowering shrub I planted on our land
Every flower is a soul blooming in Nature.-Gerard De Nerval
Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself? -Henry David Thoreau