The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Eichhornia crassipes
Eichhornia crassipes
(common water-hyacinth)

Copyright Info
Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms

Common name: common water-hyacinth

Synonyms and Other Names: water hyacinth, water-hyacinth, common waterhyacinth, Eichhornia speciosa Kunth, Piarpus crassipes (Mart.) Britton, Heteranthera formosa, Eichhornia crassipes (Mart. and Zucc.)

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: According to Pellegrini et al. (2018) [Figure 7]:

Habit: Free-floating, perennial, herbaceous, aquatic forb

Roots: Short rhizomes, typically feathery and black to purple

Stems: Short and unbranched; multiple ramets, or daughter plants, form on an horizontal stolon from axillary buds

Leaves: Sessile and petiolate leaves, with thick, glossy leaves (12-15 cm wide) that are ovate to cordate to reniform. Spirally-alternating leaf arrangement from central growing point (monopodial) with older, sessile leaves oppositely arranged. Floating petiolate leaves are held above the water by bulbous, spongy inflated petioles (to 30 cm long) when plants grow in relatively open conditions. Petioles are thinner and more vertical when growing under crowded conditions (Center and Spencer 1981; Gettys 2014; Penfound and Earle 1948).

Flowers: Showy lavender flower spikes (sometimes pale blue to white) bloom summer to early fall and are insect pollinated; individual flowers are 4-6 cm wide and have six lobes with the upper lobe enlarged and a central yellow spot surrounded by dark blue.

Fruits: Pollinated flowers produce capsules containing many seeds (Barrett 1980).

Look-a-likes: Only Pontederia crassipes have inflated petioles. Limnobium spongia have a similar leaf shape but with more prominent veination and more uniform, less tapered petioles. Heteranthera limosa, H. reniformis, and H. rotundifolia have similar leaf shapes but the flowers are smaller and have three stamens.

Size: Up to 1 m in height

Native Range: South America (Brazil)

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Eichhornia crassipes are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
AL1971202327Coosa-Tallapoosa; Guntersville Lake; Lower Alabama; Lower Black Warrior; Lower Conecuh; Lower Coosa; Lower Tallapoosa; Lower Tombigbee; Middle Alabama; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Middle Coosa; Middle Tallapoosa; Middle Tennessee-Elk; Middle Tombigbee-Chickasaw; Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub; Mississippi Coastal; Mobile Bay; Mobile-Tensaw; Mulberry; Pea; Perdido Bay; Sepulga; Sipsey; Upper Alabama; Upper Black Warrior; Upper Conecuh; Wheeler Lake
AZ196520027Agua Fria; Brawley Wash; Lower Salt; Lower Santa Cruz; Rillito; Upper Santa Cruz; Upper Verde
AR1934202210Bayou Bartholomew; Bayou Macon; Dardanelle Reservoir; Lake Conway-Point Remove; Lower Arkansas; Lower Arkansas-Maumelle; Lower Ouachita-Smackover; Lower White; Robert S. Kerr Reservoir; Upper Ouachita
CA1904202444Aliso-San Onofre; Butte Creek; Calleguas; Central Coastal; Clear Creek-Sacramento River; Cottonwood-Tijuana; Honcut Headwaters-Lower Feather; Imperial Reservoir; Los Angeles; Lower American; Lower Sacramento; Lower Sacramento; Middle Kern-Upper Tehachapi-Grapevine; Middle San Joaquin-Lower Chowchilla; Mojave; Monterey Bay; Newport Bay; Northern Mojave; Russian; Salton Sea; San Diego; San Francisco Bay; San Gabriel; San Jacinto; San Joaquin; San Joaquin Delta; San Pablo Bay; Santa Ana; Santa Ana; Santa Margarita; Santa Ynez; Southern Mojave; Suisun Bay; Tomales-Drake Bays; Tulare Lake Bed; Upper Cache; Upper Coon-Upper Auburn; Upper Cosumnes; Upper Dry; Upper King; Upper Merced; Upper Mokelumne; Upper Tuolumne; Ventura
CO200020233Cache La Poudre; San Luis; Upper Arkansas
CT189320127Housatonic; Lower Hudson; Outlet Connecticut River; Pawcatuck River; Quinebaug River; Quinnipiac; Saugatuck
DE199320224Brandywine-Christina; Broadkill-Smyrna; Chincoteague; Nanticoke
DC201020221Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan
FL1890202448Alafia; Apalachee Bay-St. Marks; Apalachicola; Apalachicola Bay; Aucilla; Big Cypress Swamp; Blackwater; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Chipola; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Daytona-St. Augustine; Econfina-Steinhatchee; Escambia; Everglades; Florida Southeast Coast; Hillsborough; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Little Manatee; Lower Chattahoochee; Lower Choctawhatchee; Lower Ochlockonee; Lower St. Johns; Lower Suwannee; Manatee; Myakka; Nassau; New; Oklawaha; Peace; Pensacola Bay; Perdido; Santa Fe; Sarasota Bay; South Atlantic-Gulf Region; Southern Florida; St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays; St. Marys; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Upper Suwannee; Vero Beach; Waccasassa; Western Okeechobee Inflow; Withlacoochee; Withlacoochee; Yellow
GA1902202328Alapaha; Altamaha; Altamaha Basin; Aucilla; Canoochee; Cumberland-St. Simons; Ichawaynochaway; Kinchafoonee-Muckalee; Little; Lower Flint; Lower Ocmulgee; Lower Ogeechee; Lower Savannah; Middle Chattahoochee-Walter F; Middle Flint; Middle Savannah; Ogeechee Coastal; Oostanaula; Satilla; Spring; St. Marys; Upper Chattahoochee; Upper Ochlockonee; Upper Ocmulgee; Upper Oconee; Upper Ogeechee; Upper Suwannee; Withlacoochee
HI193020234Hawaii; Kauai; Maui; Oahu
IL1975202211Apple-Plum; Big Muddy; Chicago; Des Plaines; Lower Fox; Lower Ohio; Salt; South Fork Sangamon; Upper Fox; Upper Illinois; Vermilion
IN200020233Highland-Pigeon; Lower East Fork White; St. Joseph
IA201920191West Fork Cedar
KS199820225Lower Cottonwood; Lower Kansas, Kansas; Lower Missouri-Crooked; Middle Arkansas-Slate; Middle Neosho
KY198620085Lower Cumberland; Lower Ohio-Salt; Lower Tennessee; Middle Green; Red
LA1884202342Amite; Atchafalaya; Bayou Cocodrie; Bayou Macon; Bayou Pierre; Bayou Sara-Thompson; Bayou Teche; Black Lake Bayou; Boeuf; Caddo Lake; Calcasieu-Mermentau; Castor; Cross Bayou; East Central Louisiana Coastal; Eastern Louisiana Coastal; Lake Maurepas; Lake Maurepas; Lake Pontchartrain; Liberty Bayou-Tchefuncta; Little; Louisiana Coastal; Lower Calcasieu; Lower Grand; Lower Mississippi-Lake Maurepas; Lower Mississippi-New Orleans; Lower Ouachita; Lower Ouachita; Lower Pearl; Lower Red-Lake Iatt; Lower Red-Ouachita; Lower Sabine; Mermentau; Middle Red-Coushatta; Red-Saline; Saline Bayou; Tangipahoa; Tensas; Tickfaw; Vermilion; West Central Louisiana Coastal; West Fork Calcasieu; Whisky Chitto
MD199820225Chincoteague; Gunpowder-Patapsco; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Patuxent
MA199220232Cape Cod; Charles
MI2011202210Au Gres-Rifle; Clinton; Detroit; Huron; Kawkawlin-Pine; Lake St. Clair; Lower Grand; Raisin; Shiawassee; Upper Grand
MN201320161Twin Cities
MS1916202321Big Sunflower; BigBlack - Homochitto; Buffalo; Coldwater; Deer-Steele; Escatawpa; Homochitto; Lower Big Black; Lower Leaf; Lower Mississippi-Helena; Lower Mississippi-Natchez; Lower Pearl; Middle Pearl-Strong; Mississippi Coastal; Pascagoula; Tangipahoa; Tibbee; Upper Chickasawhay; Upper Tombigbee; Upper Yazoo; Yalobusha
MO193020014Big Piney; Cahokia-Joachim; Current; St. Francis
NH195619601Piscataqua-Salmon Falls
NJ200220217Cohansey-Maurice; Crosswicks-Neshaminy; Great Egg Harbor; Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Delaware; Raritan; Sandy Hook-Staten Island
NM202220221Rio Grande-Albuquerque
NY192920228Chaumont-Perch; Hackensack-Passaic; Lower Hudson; Middle Hudson; Niagara River; Northern Long Island; Sandy Hook-Staten Island; Southern Long Island
NC1949202214Albemarle; Coastal Carolina; Contentnea; Lower Cape Fear; Lower Catawba; Northeast Cape Fear; Upper Catawba; Upper French Broad; Upper Neuse; Upper Pee Dee; Upper Tar; Upper Yadkin; Waccamaw; White Oak River
OH199520239Ashtabula-Chagrin; Black-Rocky; Cuyahoga; Little Miami; Lower Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Lower Maumee; Tuscarawas; Upper Great Miami, Indiana, Ohio; Upper Scioto
OR195620155Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Lower Deschutes; Lower Rogue; Lower Willamette; South Umpqua
PA1993202210Beaver; Brandywine-Christina; Lake Erie; Lehigh; Lower Allegheny; Lower Delaware; Lower Susquehanna-Swatara; Schuylkill; Shenango; Upper Ohio
PR188420244Cibuco-Guajataca; Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Eastern Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
RI200920183Blackstone River; Pawcatuck River; Point Judith-Block Island
SC1952202222Black; Broad-St. Helena; Calibogue Sound-Wright River; Carolina Coastal-Sampit; Coastal Carolina; Congaree; Cooper; Edisto River; Lake Marion; Little Pee Dee; Lower Pee Dee; Lower Pee Dee; Lower Savannah; Lumber; Middle Savannah; North Fork Edisto; Salkehatchie; Saluda; Santee; Santee; Upper Savannah; Waccamaw
TN197220084Hatchie-Obion; Lower Mississippi-Memphis; Red; Stones
TX1931202464Aransas Bay; Austin-Oyster; Austin-Travis Lakes; Big Cypress-Sulphur; Buchanan-Lyndon B. Johnson Lakes; Buffalo-San Jacinto; Caddo Lake; Cedar; Central Texas Coastal; Cibolo; East Fork San Jacinto; East Galveston Bay; East San Antonio Bay; Elm Fork Trinity; Lake Fork; Lake O'the Pines; Lavaca; Lower Angelina; Lower Brazos; Lower Brazos; Lower Brazos-Little Brazos; Lower Colorado; Lower Colorado-Cummins; Lower Frio; Lower Guadalupe; Lower Neches; Lower Nueces; Lower Rio Grande; Lower Sabine; Lower San Antonio; Lower Sulpher; Lower Trinity; Lower Trinity-Kickapoo; Lower Trinity-Tehuacana; Lower West Fork Trinity; Medina; Middle Brazos-Lake Whitney; Middle Guadalupe; Middle Neches; Middle Sabine; Navasota; Navidad; North Corpus Christi Bay; Pine Island Bayou; Sabine Lake; San Bernard; San Bernard Coastal; San Fernando; San Gabriel; San Marcos; South Corpus Christi Bay; South Laguna Madre; Spring; Toledo Bend Reservoir; Upper Angelina; Upper Neches; Upper Sabine; Upper San Antonio; Upper Trinity; Upper West Fork Trinity; West Fork San Jacinto; West Galveston Bay; West San Antonio Bay; White Oak Bayou
VI189520222St. Croix; St. John-St. Thomas
VA1977202210Albemarle; Eastern Lower Delmarva; Hampton Roads; Lower Chesapeake; Lower James; Lynnhaven-Poquoson; Middle James-Willis; Middle Potomac-Anacostia-Occoquan; Middle Potomac-Catoctin; Pamunkey
WA199520194Lake Washington; Lower Columbia-Clatskanie; Pacific Northwest Region; Snohomish
WI200520197Buffalo-Whitewater; Castle Rock; La Crosse-Pine; Middle Rock; Milwaukee; Upper Fox; Wolf

Table last updated 6/25/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Pontederia crassipes is a fast growing, troublesome aquatic plant with global distributions in tropical and subtropical areas of the world (Center and Spencer 1981; Penfound and Earle 1948). The showy, attractive lavender flowers precipitated this worldwide distribution. 

Once introduced to a new region, the plant quickly establishes and spreads.  In the absence of sustained freeze, the plant grows as a perennial.  In its northern range, the plant grows as an annual, where it is either re-introduced or germinates from seed.  Long-term exposures (2-4 weeks) to temperatures at or near freezing are required to significantly reduce P. crassipes populations (Owens and Madsen 1995; Russell 1942). The plant has a low tolerance for saline waters.  Plants grown in water containing 3% seawater exhibited significant leaf necrosis after 28 days (Penfound and Earle 1948). 

Dense, floating mats of P. crassipes and the subsequent build-up of organic detritus in the mat create an environment that supports the growth of emergent aquatic and terrestrial species, including woody species such as Salix spp. and Cephalanthus occidentalis.  These floating islands (also referred to as tussocks, sudds, and flotants), accelerate succession and create concern for navigation and infrastructure (Penfound and Earle 1948; Russell 1942). 

Pontederia crassipes reproduces vegetatively through the production of ramets and an abundance of seeds.  Flowers are known to be pollinated by a number of insects, most notably the introduced honey bee (Aphis mellifera L.) (Penfound and Earle 1948; S.C.H. Barrett).   Seeds remain dormant in the hydrosoil until exposed to a drying event (Penfound and Earle 1948; Gettys 2014). Pontederia crassipes can double its population in as little as two 2 weeks, creating an enormous amount of floating biomass (Penfound and Earle 1948).  One hectare of healthy P. crassipes can weigh as much as 415 metric tons (Schardt 1997).

Means of Introduction: Sold as an ornamental for fish ponds; sometimes escapes or is intentionally introduced into larger water bodies such as lakes and reservoirs. 

Status: Populations in the southeastern (North Carolina to Texas) and southwestern (California and Arizona) US remain established (including Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands), while those in northern states (Washington to Colorado to New York) likely do not overwinter.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...

EcologicalEconomicHuman HealthOther

Since its introduction, P. crassipes has notoriously interfered with navigation, triggering the 55th Congress, through the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, to authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to address the problem (Schardt 1997) after commercial commerce was impeded by P. crassipes on the St. Johns River (Webber 1897).  In one instance, 65 feet of a railroad trussel across Rice Creek near Palatka, FL was destroyed in 1894 by build-up of waterhyacinth.

Pontederia crassipes can develop into dense floating mats of substantial biomass, intertwined with stoloniferous offshoots, and often associated with the growth of opportunistic emergent macrophytes, resulting in this introduced plant being labeled one of the “world’s worst weeds” (Holm et al. 1997; Lowe et al. 2000).  The free-floating nature of the plant only exacerbates its problematic standing because the populations can move with water flow and wind. Recreational use of waters infested with this plant are greatly reduced. Pontederia crassipes can also impede drainage, creating backwater flooding conditions.

Water quality and wildlife habitat can be greatly affected, reducing dissolved oxygen levels under mats by an order of magnitude and covering the water surface with an impenetrable barrier (Penfound and Earle 1948).  These dense surface mats shade out desirable submersed aquatic plants and create a safe breeding environment for mosquitoes (Savage et al. 1990).

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Author: Pfingsten, I.A., D.D. Thayer, C.C. Jacono, M.M. Richerson, and V. Howard

Revision Date: 9/26/2022

Peer Review Date: 2/25/2016

Citation Information:
Pfingsten, I.A., D.D. Thayer, C.C. Jacono, M.M. Richerson, and V. Howard, 2024, Eichhornia crassipes (Mart.) Solms: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1130, Revision Date: 9/26/2022, Peer Review Date: 2/25/2016, Access Date: 6/25/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [6/25/2024].

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