Water Hyacinths

Water hyacinth-choked lakeshore at Ndere Islan...
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Botanical Name:Eichhornia crassipes
Family: Pontederiaceae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Commelinales
Genus: Eichhornia
Species: E. crassipes
Kingdom: Plantae
Habitat :Water courses.Still or slow moving fresh water. Moist and boggy areas. Native of Amazon basin.Brazil, South America.
Common Name: Common Water Hyacinth , water-hyacinth, floating water-hyacinth,Kachuripana
Bengali Name :Kachuripana

Description: Floating plants with thick, glossy leaves, inflated petioles and spikes of lavender flowers.

A frost-tender aquatic perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it can be quite invasive. In St. Louis, it will generally not survive winter and is often grown as an annual. It is easily grown on still water in full sun. Needs hot summer weather and full sun to bloom. Scatter small bunches of plants on the water surface after last frost date. Plants spread quickly in optimum conditions by stolons that radiate outward from the mother plant. Remove excess plants as needed. Several plants may be lifted in fall before frost for overwintering in containers of wet, sandy loam in bright light at indoor temperatures of 60-70 degrees F. However, many St. Louis gardeners prefer to grow water hyacinth as an annual by simply repurchasing new plants each spring.

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Plant Type: This is a non-native herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 50cm in height (20inches). Spreading vegetatively it forms large floating masses. The roots hang in the water and may stick in mud and thus appear to be rooted there.

Leaves: This plant has basal leaves only. Leaves can reach 15cm in length (6inches). Each leaf is generally rounded and entire. Many of the petioles have inflated bases that keep the plant extremely buoyant.

Flowers: The flowers have 6 Regular Parts. They are blue to lavander and purple. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into late summer. The flowers are in spikes with about fifteen but up to thirty-five flowers.

Seed – Seeds can tolerate submersion or desiccation for 15 years and still germinate. Scarification, but not light, may be required for germination.

Invasion of Lake Victoria

The plant was introduced by Belgian colonists to Ruanda to beautify their holdings and then advanced by natural means to Lake Victoria where it was first sighted in 1988 There, without any natural enemies, it has become an ecological plague, suffocating the lake, diminishing the fish reservoir, and hurting the local economies. It impedes access to Kisumu and other harbors.

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Noteworthy Characteristics:
Native to Brazil, water hyacinth is a free-floating, frost-tender aquatic perennial that is commonly used as an ornamental plant in water gardens. It produces rosettes of thick, leathery, ovate to rounded, glossy green leaves with inflated, bulbous leaf petioles that act as floats. Plants spread rapidly by stolons to form a dense mat of foliage (to 6” tall). Spikes of lilac to lavender flowers bloom atop erect stalks to 6-9” tall in summer. Each flowering spike typically has 8-15 flowers. One petal of each flower has a yellow spot at the base. Long greenish-purple roots dangle downward from the plants, providing shelter and spawning areas for many small fish. As an ornamental water garden plant, water hyacinth provides attractive flowers and dense foliage that inhibits growth of algae and helps keep water clear. The value of this plant is directly related to the climate in which it grows. In warm climates where it survives winter, water hyacinth is considered to be a noxious weed because of its ability to rapidly cover a pond or lake from shore to shore and to choke waterways. It has naturalized in the deep South in states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas where expensive eradication programs have been implemented. It is included on the Federal List of Noxious Weeds. Several southern states have banned its sale. On the other hand, in areas where the plants are not winter hardy, they are being purposefully introduced into wastewater areas to clean up the water because they not only absorb many common pollutants but also absorb some toxic pesticides and heavy metals. Steyermark reports small populations in the Southeast lowlands area of Missouri.

No serious insect or disease problems. Invasive in mild winter climates.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Young leaves and petioles – cooked. Virtually tasteless. Said to be used as a carotene-rich table vegetable in Formosa. Javanese sometimes cook and eat the green parts and inflorescence. Flower spikes – cooked.

Chemical Compositions:
chemical composition of water hyacinth was studied. It contained 49.6% protein, 16.0% total lipids, 26.9% total carbohydrates, 1.7% fibre and 5.8% ash. Calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese and potassium were determined. Nutritional properties of the isolate are discussed in relation to its amino acid composition and to its in vitro digestibility by proteolytic enzymes. Comparison with the FAO/WHO reference pattern showed that all of the essential amino acids were present at high levels in the leaf protein isolate. The limiting amino acid in the isolate was methionine (i.e., methionine + cystine). In vitro digestibility was highest with digestion by pepsin followed by pancreatin and lowest with digestion by pepsin alone. Digestion with pancreatin alone gave intermediate values.{As per Journal of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) Issue Volume: 34, Number 1 / March, 1984 }
Madicinal Uses:
The antoxidative properties of water hyacinth leaves were investigated by evaluating the scavenging capacity of liquid extracts in a competitive protective process against oxygenated free radicals (OFRs) released via electrolysis in a phosphate buffer with a Pt electrode. Colorimetric measurements carried out at 515 nm, through a N,N-diethyl-1,4-phenylenediamine (DPD) assay, showed a decreased absorbance of the sample, as compared to the blank obtained by electrolysis of the buffer without plant extract, revealing, thereby, the presence of antioxidizing agents in the liquid extracts. The antioxidative activity was estimated in terms of equivalent-glutathione (EG, in nmoles equivalent-glutathione per gram of dry plant material selected (eg/gdp)), and compared to those of soya beans and garlic bulbs. The EG value increased with decreasing dilution factors, regardless to the plant type, suggesting a strong influence of the medium pH on the antioxidizing agent extraction yields. Various plant drying procedures, namely: sunlight exposure (at 25–30 °C), heating (40 and 60 °C) and freeze-drying (at –70 °C) were also examined. The highest EG (ca. 40 nmol eg/gdp) was observed for freeze-dried leave extract, while the lowest value was obtained upon heating at 60 °C (16–17 nmol eg/gdp), presumably due to a detrimental effect of increased temperature. The glutathione content in the plant extracts was further determined spectroscopically at 412 nm, through an enzymatic assay, using glutathione reductase. Small but interesting contents of glutathione (ca. 40 nmol eg/gdp) were found in the hyacinth leaves, making this plant to be regarded as an alternative and convenient low-cost raw material for antioxidizing agent recovery.


Other Uses
Biomass; Pollution.
Water hyacinths are potentially an excellent source of biomass. Through an anaerobic fermentation process, polluted hyacinths can be converted to the natural gas methane – a costly process that may become more economical as supplies of underground natural gas are depleted. Dried and cleansed plants can be used as fertilizer and plant mulch. Eventually, living aquatic plants might serve aboard long-distance manned spacecraft, absorbing wastes and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, then being themselves converted into food. The plant can be cultivated for use in wastewater treatment, and can be incorporated into a system where the biomass is harvested for fuel production. Since this biomass is a by-product of wastewater treatment, it has a positive environmental impact, and thus poses no threat as competitor to food, feed, or fibre-producing plants. Wilted water hyacinth, mixed with earth, cow dung, and woodashes in the Chinese compost fashion, can yield useful compost in just two months. Although potential yields are incredible, so are the costs of removal or attempted eradication of this water weed. Standing crops have been estimated to produce 100-120 tonnes per hectare per year.. Under ideal conditions, each plant can produce 248 offspring in 90 days. Water hyacinth roots naturally absorb pollutants, including such toxic chemicals as lead, mercury, and strontium 90 (as well as some organic compounds believed to be carcinogenic) in concentrations 10,000 times that in the surrounding water. In Africa, fresh plants are used as cushions in canoes and to plug holes in charcoal sacks.
You may click to see:->WATER HYACINTH AND ITS USES

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider




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