Water Hyacinth Uses

Water hyacinths are aquatic plants that originate in South America. They are known scientifically as Eichhornia crassipes. The plants are free-floating and perennial, and can reach maximum heights of 3 feet. Water hyacinths are notable for their vibrant violet to pale blue flowers and glossy, ovate leaves. The plants are rapid-growing and considered to be invasive, since, without control, they can quickly cover up entire ponds and lakes. Gardeners, however, find various uses for water hyacinths.

Fertilizer

Water hyacinths are often harvested to produce fertilizer. Water hyacinths offer benefits to the texture of soil, due to their fibrous qualities. Soils that are amended with the plant have better moisture drainage and stronger aeration when compared with plants that have been given chemical fertilizers, instead. To make a strong water hyacinth fertilizer, dry and blend the plant together with manure, ash and soil. The mixture should be sealed off for between two and three months.

Various Uses

All around the world, water hyacinth is used to make different items and products. In the African nation of Uganda, the plant is used to make sleeping mats and paper. Dried water hyacinth is also cooked and used as cattlefeed. On the South Pacific island nation of Fiji, dried out water hyacinth is commonly used for basket weaving. In South Asia (particularly Burma and Bangladesh), water hyacinth is frequently used by farmers in floating vegetable gardens, as a compost and base. In the Philippines, the plant is used to create baskets.

Water Purification

Water hyacinth helps in the water purification process by purifying water intended for sewage systems or for human consumption. For drinking water, the plant is often used as a pre-treatment water purification procedure. Clean and thriving water hyacinths are placed into water purifiers to assist with the elimination of tiny flocs that linger after the coagulation and settling process. This addition causes reduced turbidity and decreased organic matter in the water.

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About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.