Can you name this invasive plant?

Water hyacinth and its reflection in the water

© Karine Aigner/WWF-US

Water hyacinth!

Native to the tropics of South America, the water hyacinth is quite a striking plant, with its glossy green leaves and beautiful flowers with six violet petals and one yellow “eye”. It is also a pernicious weed that can quickly infest an area with devastating ecological and economic consequences.

The fast-growing water hyacinth has taken over waterways in nearly every part of the world. In just two weeks, a cluster of these plants can double in size. Blanketing a lake or pond, it creates a mat of vegetation so thick that it can lock boats in place, block photosynthesis of native aquatic plants, and kill off fish. Some consider it to be the world’s most widespread invasive species—more so than even black rats.

Learn more about this invasive species—and a surprising idea once considered by Congress to help eradicate it in the US.