The Eichhornia crassipes is more commonly known as water hyacinth. Crassipes literally means ‘thick foot’ and the genus, Eichhornia (pronounced EYKH-horn-ee-a) is named after a Prussian Minister, J.A. Eichorn (1779-1856). It is a floating plant, which requires soft water and can live either indoors or outdoors.
It is an aquatic plant that has round, chunky leaves that are held up by bulbous stems. During the summer, Eichhornia crassipes flowers pale blue, funnel shaped flowers and this is how it derived the common name of water hyacinth.
Originating from South America, it prefers tropical climates. Eichhornia crassipes enjoys high temperatures and rooms should not fall below 10 degrees Celsius.
It flowers between July and September and should be transferred inside at the end of autumn to avoid the ravages of winter.
Crassipes is the species and the genus is Eichhornia. The plant belongs to the Pontederiaceae family, a small and close-knit family of aquatic plants, with fewer than 40 species.
Eichhornia crassipes need to have withered flowers and yellowing leaves removed quickly. It’s important to try to keep a high humidity. Light is important, although filtered, partial light is preferable to direct sunlight. They require soft water, which means it must be filtered, boiled and cooled or if outdoors, it must be rainwater.
Did You Know?
Despite being difficult to propagate at home, Eichhornia crassipes is an extremely fast grower in the wild, often doubling in population in just two weeks. In the tropics, it is often considered a weed.
In World War II they were used to fool Japanese pilots, by making them assume lakes were actually fields where they could safely land.