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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Saturday - May 28, 2011

From: Lake Charles, LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Why is Water Hyacinth an invasive plant and Pickerel Weed isn't in Metarie, LA?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

Water Hyacinth. Would you please tell me why the Eichhornia crassipes (non-native) vs. Pickerelweed (native) is invasive vs. non-invasive? What are easy identifiers for these aquatic plants? Thanks and Regards, K

ANSWER:

Water Hyacinth and Pickerel Weed Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed) are both aquatic plants in the Water Hyacinth Family (Pontederiaceae).  Although both have purple flowers, they are easy to distinguish by the arrangement of the flowers and the shape of the leaves. Click on each of the links below to compare these features.

Pickerel Weed 

  http://www.vplants.org/plants/species/species.jsp?gid=32287

  more images  

Water Hyacinth

   more images 

Pickerel Weed is a native plant and by definition is not considered to be an invasive species , although it is an aggressive grower. The Water Hyacinth, being introduced from Brazil in the 1880’s, is listed as an invasive species and is the more aggressive grower of the two. This can be attributed to the difference in their growth habit. The Pickerel Weed is an immersed plant, growing in shallow water (< 2 ft). It has roots and rhizomes that attach it to the  substrate, and is thus restricted to growth along the edges of ponds, lakes, and streams. The Water Hyacinth, on the other hand, is a floating plant that has spongy parenchyma tissue in the petioles of the leaves that serve as flotation devices, and fine roots that obtain nutrients from the water. With no attachments, it can quickly cover the entire surface of the body of water where it is growing. It also has a high growth rate (studies have shown that populations can double in as little as six days).
      

 

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