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Datasheet

Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Eichhornia azurea
  • Preferred Common Name
  • anchored water hyacinth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • E. azurea is a rooted perennial aquatic plant with submersed and emersed leaves. Several taxa of this family have spread, as weeds or ornamentals (

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
Copyright©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
Flowering habitEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
Copyright©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
Flowering habitEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); flowering habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
TitleHabit
CaptionEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
Copyright©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Eichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.
HabitEichhornia azurea (anchored water hyacinth); habit. Campo Grande, Transpantaneira, Poconé, Mato Grosso, Brazil. June 2016.©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Eichhornia azurea (Sw.) Kunth, 1843

Preferred Common Name

  • anchored water hyacinth

Other Scientific Names

  • Eichhornia aquatica (Vell.) Schltdl.
  • Eichhornia azurea var. rhizantha Seub.
  • Piaropus azureus (Sw.) Raf.
  • Piaropus tricolor Raf., Fl., Tellur.
  • Piaropus undulatus Raf., Fl., Tellur.
  • Pontederia aquatica Vell., Fl. Flumin.
  • Pontederia azurea Sw.
  • Pontederia tumida Willd ex Kunth.

International Common Names

  • English: rooted water hyacinth; saw-petal water hyacinth
  • Spanish: cola de pato; pico de pato

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: aguapé; aguapé-de-canudo; aguapé-de-cordao; jacinto d’agua; rainha dos lagos
  • Cuba: jacinta de agua
  • Sweden: azurblå vattenhyacint

EPPO code

  • EICAZ

Summary of Invasiveness

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E. azurea is a rooted perennial aquatic plant with submersed and emersed leaves. Several taxa of this family have spread, as weeds or ornamentals (Barrett, 1978), outside the limits of their native range (Eckenwalder and Barrett, 1986). Eichhornia crassipes is the species best known for its invasiveness; it is one of the most troublesome weeds in the world (Gopal, 1987) and is declared a noxious weed in many countries, including in the USA and in two states in Australia. The status of E. crassipes (water hyacinth) as a weed has led to the subsequent designation of E. azurea and several species of Eichhornia as prohibited imports in various countries (USDA-NRCS, 2016; The State of New South Wales, 2009).

E. azurea was introduced into the USA from South America as an aquatic ornamental in the 1980s. It has occasionally escaped into local environments in the USA (Gopal, 1987) but has not become established as a weed there. According to historical records, E. azurea has been reported in southern Florida and more recently in Texas (TexasInvasives.org, 2016). It has also been reported in Japan but possibly as a temporary occurrence only (Kadono, 2004).

E. azurea is a weed with a widespread distribution in Brazil, where it often creates large floating mats which obstruct navigation and many other uses of aquatic resources. Reproduction is by seed and vegetatively. Dispersal is by whole plants, by water or by birds.

 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Pontederiales
  •                         Family: Pontederiaceae
  •                             Genus: Eichhornia
  •                                 Species: Eichhornia azurea

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Eichhornia is a small genus in the Pontederiaceae. The species are exclusively palustrial and aquatic herbaceous monocotyledons, native to the New World, predominantly neotropical; only E. natans (P. Beauv.) is native to tropical Africa (Eckenwalder and Barrett, 1986; Gopal, 1987; Barrett, 1988). It is important to note that there has been taxonomic confusion within the genus, which comprises between seven (Eckenwalder and Barrett, 1986) and eight species (Barrett, 1978; Cook, 1998). Eichhornia azurea was first named as Pontederia azurea by Swartz in 1788, and it is a basionym of the current name E. azurea, the genus for which was changed by Kunth in 1843 (IPNI, 2009). This name is accepted by Berry et al. (2004) and Walderley et al. (2005). There are no described subspecies or varieties for this species.

 

Description

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Floating perennial aquatic plant, typically rooted in mud. Plant height up to 100 cm tall. Vegetative stems elongate, developing to and growing at water surface. Flowering stems erect, 8–12 cm, glabrous, distal internode 2–10 cm. Leaves submerged, floating or emergent (or a combination of any two). Sessile leaves submersed, no petiole, alternate on elongate stem. Petiolate leaves emersed; stipule 7–13 cm, apex truncate; petiole never inflated, 11–25 cm; blade round, 7–16 × 2.3–16 cm. Inflorescence a spike or panicle, subtended by 2 reduced, dissimilar leaves. Spikes 7–50-flowered sometimes carrying more than 60 flowers (Gopal, 1987). Flower zygomorphic, spathes obovate, 3–6 cm; peduncle 1.9–15 cm, pubescent with orange hairs. Perianth blue or white, limb lobes obovate, 13–25 mm, margins erose, central distal lobe dark blue at base with yellow distal spot (Haynes, 1988); proximal stamens 15–29 mm, distal 6–20 mm; anthers 1.2–2.3 mm; style 3-lobed. Seeds develop from an anatropous ovule. The fruit contains 10–13-winged seeds (Flora of North America, 2009) 1.5-2.6 mm long, 0.3-0.9 mm wide (Sher, 2009). The roots extend into the substrate, which length varies greatly; 5 cm in the younger portions of the stems but can reach up to 1 m in the older portions (Padial et al., 2009).

Plant Type

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Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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E. azurea is a widespread species of Pontederiaceae, largely restricted to the Neotropics (Horn, 1987). It is well distributed in northern Argentina and southern Brazil (Instituto de Botanica Darwinion, 2009). It is also present in Mesoamerica, the Caribbean and northern South America (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; USDA-NRCS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009). Liogier and Martorell (1982) cited E. azurea as being present in Puerto Rico. It was subsequently listed in various databases as native (USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009) or introduced (USDA-NRCS, 2009). E. azurea was excluded as being present in Puerto Rico by Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2005). Axelrod (2011) reports two herbarium specimens collected from Puerto Rico, however these are both E. crassipes.

Outside its native range, E. azurea has been reported present in the US state of Florida, located in ponds (USDA-NRCS, 2016) and in Texas in a lake and along a slough (TexasInvasive.org, 2016). Outside the New World, it has been observed in Japan but this may be a temporal occurrence (Kadono, 2004). It has also been reported as being introduced into India and Iran (Sher, 2009). Barrett (1978) mentions its introduction into Africa, although no reports of its presence have been made from any countries on that continent. In some cases its presence could be a misidentification.

 

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IndiaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
JapanPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKadono, 2004
SingaporePresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced Not invasive National Parks Board, 2016

North America

MexicoPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedWestbrooks, 1990; USGS, 2005; University of Florida Herbarium, 2009; USDA-NRCS, 2009
-IndianaUnconfirmed recordIntroduced2000 Not invasive USGS, 2005Southern Indiana, located in 5 sites in unspecified pond
-TexasPresentIntroduced Invasive Kartesz, 2016; TexasInvasives.org, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
GuatemalaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
HondurasPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009
JamaicaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
NicaraguaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
PanamaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
Puerto RicoPresentNativeAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2005; USGS, 2005; USDA-ARS, 2009; USDA-NRCS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeWorld Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009

South America

ArgentinaRestricted distributionNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009; EPPO, 2014
BoliviaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
BrazilPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
-BahiaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulWidespreadNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-ParaPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-ParanaWidespreadNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do SulWidespreadNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009
-Santa CatarinaWidespreadNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009
-Sao PauloPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
-TocantinsPresentNativeLorenzi, 1982
ColombiaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
EcuadorPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009
French GuianaPresentNativeCIRAD, 2008; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
GuyanaPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
ParaguayPresentNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
PeruPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009
SurinamePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
UruguayPresentNativeInstituto Botanica Darwinion de, 2009; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009
VenezuelaRestricted distributionNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2009; USDA-ARS, 2009; World Checklist of Selected Plant Families, 2009; EPPO, 2014

Oceania

New ZealandPresent only under cover/indoorsIntroduced Not invasive Champion and Clayton, 2001Present in the aquarium trade, but not currently offered for sale

History of Introduction and Spread

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E. azurea was reported in Texas (Shinners, 1962), but this record was based on a misidentified specimen that was actually E. crassipes (Flora of North America, 2009). More recent reports in 2013 and 2014 of E. azurea in Texas, one in a lake and one along a slough, have been verified (TexasInvasives.org, 2016). In 1987, it was found in several locations in Florida (Westbrooks, 1990); the report specifically noted a population growing in a residential estate pool in Palm Beach that was then eradicated in 1988. Another collection from Columbia County in Florida was also eradicated (Flora of North America, 2009). Currently, E. azurea is present at one site in Florida (University of Florida Herbarium, 2009) where all of the plants are located in ponds. It is present in the aquarium / pond plant trade in New Zealand, but it is not currently offered for sale (Champion and Clayton, 2001).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Florida South America 1987 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)Gopal (1987)

Risk of Introduction

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E. azurea can be introduced intentionally as an ornamental plant, and it is offered for sale in the USA by aquarium or water-garden dealerships; it is also advertised on commercial websites (Stratford and Steve, 2001) and can be obtained by mail-order from aquatic plant nurseries (Schmitz et al., 1998). It could also be introduced as seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2009). The traits of this species would limit its ability to spread widely and, while it may become a problem on a local scale, doubt has been expressed about its potential to become a weed (S Barrett, personal communication, 2008 in Julien, 2008).

E. azurea has been declared a federal noxious weed by the USA government (USDA-APHIS, 2006), and declared an aquatic noxious weed in parts of the USA. Class A noxious weed: Alabama, Vermont. Prohibited noxious weed: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Oklahoma. Quarantined: California, Oregon. Prohibited aquatic plant, Class 1: Florida. Prohibited: Massachusetts. Class A noxious weed: North Carolina. Invasive aquatic plant pest: South Carolina. Noxious weed: Texas (USDA-ARS, 2009; USDA-NRCS, 2009; Indiana Invasive Species Council, 2013).

In Australia, E. azurea is declared as follows: New South Wales: noxious weed (Class 1) (The State of New South Wales, 2009). Queensland: pest plant (Class 1) (The State of Queensland, 2009). It is included on noxious plant lists in South Africa (Global Compendium of Weeds, 2007). It has also failed risk assessments for the management of potential weeds in the ornamental trade in New Zealand (Champion and Clayton, 2001), where E. azurea’sseeds are Regulated Weed Seeds and prohibited from all consignments (MAF Bisosecurity, 2009). Further introductions into New Zealand are therefore unlikely.

 

Habitat

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E. azurea is a large, long-lived, mat-forming perennial which most commonly occurs in permanent water bodies. Predominant in mud along rivers, lakes, marshes, canals, the channel between rivers and lakes and in the littoral zone of lakes (Barrett, 1988). It prefers open and slow-moving water environments.

E. azurea is found in the neotropical zone of South America from sea level to 1000 m (Instituto de Botanica Darwinion, 2009). It is the most common species of emergent macrophytes in tropical areas subjected to flooding (Howard-Williams, 1985), being the predominant species in wetlands and lakes associated with flood plains (Pinto et al., 1999; Nunes, 2003) which are generally shallow (depths are usually lower than 1.5 m) (Padial et al., 2009). E. azurea together with E. crassipes has been found near the coast in a river delta in Brazil (Tavares et al., 2005); the two have also been found together in reservoirs (Brazil) (Martins et al., 2008; Pitelli et al., 2008).

 

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Present, no further details
Lakes Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Ponds Present, no further details
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Reservoirs Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

E. azurea is 2n=32, the same as E. crassipes, which is usually 2n=32 (Cook, 1998).
 
Reproductive Biology

E. azurea is pollinated by a variety of insects depending on the flower form. Tristylous flowers of E. azurea are almost exclusively visited by one bee species, Ancyloscelis gigas (Anthophoridae). The latter’s proboscis morphology make this bee species narrowly adapted (Alves dos Santos and Wittmann, 2000). The absence of the specialized pollinator may cause the breakdown of the tristylous system (Barrett, 1979; 1988; Alves dos Santos, 2002). The breeding system of E. azurea has been described as heteromorphic self-incompatible in the Amazon, southern Brazil and northern Argentina (Barrett, 1978; Alves dos Santos and Wittmann, 2000; Bianchi et al., 2000). In addition, there are populations with semi-homostylous floral morphs (breakdown of tristyly) in southeastern Brazil (Barrett, 1978; Alves dos Santos, 2002). Under natural conditions in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands, the species is a partially self- and heteromorphic compatible system (Cunha and Fischer, 2009). Alves dos Santos (1999) reports that non-tristylous flowers are pollinated by long-tongued bees and butterflies and Cunha and Fisher (2009) report observing honeybees, Trigona sp. bees, butterflies, hemipterans and dipterans visiting flowers in the southern Pantanal of Brazil.

Self- and illegitimate pollinations produced significantly less fruit and seed than legitimate pollinations in all 3 style morphs (Bianchi et al., 2000; Alves dos Santos, 2002). It flowers from June to October in its native range (Hederson and Cilliers, 2002; Flora of North America, 2009); in its southern area of distribution it starts flowering in May; and in the northern area it finishes in November. Flowers of E. azurea open for just one day. At the end of flowering, the inflorescence bends down and sinks into the water, where the capsules and seeds develop (Alves dos Santos, 2002). Vegetative reproduction occurs by fragmentation and sprouting of the robustly branching stems (Barrett, 1978).
 
Physiology and Phenology
 
E. azurea is characterized by great morphological plasticity and its ability to adapt to different growth conditions, and overall by its secondary submerged roots, which change morphologically depending on the water nutrient concentrations, particularly phosphorus (e.g., Gopal, 1987; Camargo and Esteves, 1996). Other traits increase linearly with water depth and with water clarity (Milne et al., 2006). Water is the most significant source of nutrients (Nogueira et al., 1996) and the plant size is proportional to the level of available nutrients (Pott and Pott, 2004). The biomass of roots in E. azurea is 83.62 g/m2 and of leaves is 154.47 g/m2, the total biomass of 237.09 is higher than that of E. crassipes (Sanchez-Botero et al., 2003); biomasses of up to 900 g DW/m2 can be reached (Bini, 1996). It demonstrates a low leaf area index, a long time interval for the emergence of new leaves, a long leaf life-span and a low capacity for branching (Ikusima and Gentil, 1993).
 
In its native range, E. azurea grows all year round. It is dominant in relatively deep water owing to its potential for great elongation of its main stem. The oldest ramets of E. azurea occur anchored at the shoreline, and the most recent grow in the direction of the limnetic zone (Nogueira et al., 1996); it forms floating vegetation banks that extend themselves for some metres from the coastal region, as well at the lowest-lying sites, and only dies off during the driest years. If dry conditions occur in sequence, it does not return rapidly (Heckman, 1998). Long-term droughts cause massive E. azurea death leading to detritus accumulation in the margin of several lagoons, where decomposition occurs and concentrations of the detritus are significantly affected by flooding regimes (Padial and Thomaz, 2006). E. azurea has a good absorption capacity for copper and iron and can be used to identify metal contamination in the study area (Laybauer and Ortiz, 1999).
 
Associations
 
The high abundance of E. azurea has been coupled with either abundant free-floating plants (usually Salvinia spp., E. crassipes or Pistia stratiotes) or emergents such as aquatic grasses, or Polygonum spp. (Murphy et al., 2003). It is the most characteristic species in the Pantanal wetlands (Pott and Pott, 2004) together with Pontederia lanceolata, and both species block the spread of E. crassipes’ drift (Heckman, 1998).
 
In its natural habitats, E. azurea presents higher invertebrate species richness than other floating plants (Poi de Neiff and Neiff, 2006; Silva and Henry, 2013). E. azurea provides a high level of structural heterogeneity due to its submerged roots (Dibble and Thomaz, 2006) providing an important biotope for fishes (Agostinho et al., 2007; Padial et al., 2009), many invertebrates (Lima et al., 2003; Monkolski et al., 2005) and mainly insects (Raizer and Amaral, 2001; Moretti, 2003; De Melo et al., 2004; Fulan and Henry, 2007; Higuti et al., 2007); it is also the preferred substratum for molluscs (Pfeifer and Pitoni, 2003). It is noted that E. azurea has associated dark septate fungi and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (de Marins, 2009).
 
Environmental Requirements
 
Nutrient enrichment is observed to aid in the establishment and spread in reservoirs (Bini et al., 2005).

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
20 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 0
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 24 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 27 32
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 13 21

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8002500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • seasonally waterlogged

Water Tolerances

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ParameterMinimum ValueMaximum ValueTypical ValueStatusLife StageNotes
Alkalinity (mg/l of Calcium Carbonate) 500 Optimum (mEq/l). Upper Rio Parana, southern Brazil
Conductivity (µmhos/cm) 132.0-181.9 Optimum (mS/cm). Upper Rio Parana, southern Brazil
Depth (m b.s.l.) 0.54-1.28 Optimum Upper Rio Parana, southern Brazil
Water pH (pH) Optimum Neutral. Upper Rio Parana, southern Brazil

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Cornops aquaticum Herbivore Whole plant not specific Silva et al., 2010
Drosophila aguape Herbivore Inflorescence Val and Marques, 1996
Orthogalumna terebrantis Herbivore Leaves not specific Center et al., 2002 North America, Australia, Asia, Africa Eichhornia crassipes, E. azurea, Pontederia cordata, Reussia subovata
Thrypticus sp. Herbivore Whole plant Cordo et al., 2000

Notes on Natural Enemies

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E. azurea has a specific host herbivore of the genus Thrypticus (Diptera: Dolichopodidae) (Cordo et al., 2000) and Drosophila aguape is associated with flowers (Val and Marques, 1996) although the effect of its damage to the demography of E. crassipes is unknown. Other specific and non-specific herbivores of E. azurea are listed in Poi de Neiff and Casco (2003) and Center et al. (2002). Cornops aquaticum is a grasshopper that feeds on E. azurea, E. crassipes and Pontederia cordata and has been investigated as a potential biocontrol agent of E. crassipes (Silva et al., 2010). E. azurea has a specific pathogen - the galls found in the rhizomes induced by a new species of cecidomyiid (Cecidomyiidae: Diptera) and larval development cause enlargement of the infected area and a small change of natural colour in the rhizome (Pelaez-Rodriguez et al., 2003).The marsh deer (Blastocerus dichotomus) and the capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) feed on E. azurea (Heckman, 1998).

 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)

Reproduction is both by seed and vegetative propagation, and the propagules can be carried out by the drift from the upper stream to downstream (Bini et al., 2005). Vegetative reproduction is not as extensive as in E. crassipes (EPPO, 2008).
 
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
 
The seeds may be carried by birds (Barrett, 1988).
 
Accidental Introduction
 
It could be introduced as a seed contaminant (USDA-ARS, 2009) in shipments (University of Florida Herbarium, 2009).
 
Intentional Introduction
 
E. azurea can be introduced intentionally as an ornamental plant; it is offered for sale in the USA by aquarium or water garden dealerships; it is also advertised on commercial websites (Stratford and Steve, 2001) and can be obtained by mail-order from aquatic plant nurseries (Schmitz et al., 1998).
 

 

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Mail Yes Schmitz et al., 1998

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Growing medium accompanying plants seeds Pest or symptoms usually invisible

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative

Economic Impact

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E. azurea is one the most problematic species in the reservoirs in Brazil in sub-tropical and tropical regions (Carauta et al., 1991; Fernández et al., 1993) in particular because these environments are frequently subject to eutrophication, which may enhance the growth of free-floating nuisance species (Thomaz and Bini, 1998). This affects the multiple utilization of the water body, including fish production, irrigation, transportation and hydroelectric production (Martins et al., 2003), causing damage to turbines and necessitating expensive cleaning processes (Pitelli, 2000; Pitelli et al., 2008). In its native range, it has been reported in Cuba as agricultural weed (Acuna, 1974 cited in Global Compendium of Weeds, 2007) and it can be found invading channels of the polder in French Guyana (CIRAD, 2008). However, there is insufficient information with which to evaluate these impacts.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

E. azurea has the potential to form thick mats over the water surface, shading out native vegetation and altering water chemistry (Martins et al., 2003).

 

Social Impact

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E. azurea is often considered a nuisance species in many Brazilian reservoirs with impacts on tourism, and recreation, navigation and fishing activities (Pitelli, 2000; Pitelli et al., 2008).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of natural benthic communities
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Soil accretion
  • Transportation disruption
Impact mechanisms
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
  • Trampling
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant

Uses

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Economic Value

E. azurea is only slightly palatable and is digested with difficulty (Henry-Silva and Camargo, 2000).
 
Environmental Services
 
In its natural habitats, E. azurea presents higher invertebrate richness than other species of floating plants (Poi de Neiff and Neiff, 2006).  It is eaten by capybara, pigs, and other herbivores and creates habitat for fish, insect larvae, and snails among other organisms (Dahroug et al., 2016). 

 

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Pet/aquarium trade
  • Research model

Ornamental

  • Propagation material

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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E. azurea and E. crassipes are superficially similar in appearance and are confused with one another in botanical collections and in systematic literature (Barrett, 1978). E. azurea can be distinguished from other Eichhornia by its elongate, fan-like submersed leaves and long floating stems with large obovate, erect leaves with slender petioles and secondary submerged roots (coming from stem nodes). The petiole of the emergent leaf is never swollen. Flowers are similar to floating water hyacinth but are often less robust and more blue in colour. The inner petals have a fringed margin. E. crassipes can float freely, unlike its congener E. azurea, which must root to the substrate and is therefore confined to shallow ponds and the edges of lakes and rivers (Barrett, 1989; Q-Bank, 2016).

 

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

Anchored water hyacinth is not known to be invasive out of its native range, so prevention of its establishment is the best form of control. In New Zealand, for example, E. azurea’s seeds are Regulated Weed Seeds; this means that they are prohibited and that all consignments must be managed according to the phytosanitary requirements specified in the specific schedules for entry the MAF Biosecurity protocol (MAF Bisosecurity, 2009). The aquatic weed risk assessment model used to manage potential weeds in the ornamental trade in New Zealand produced a high-risk result for E. azurea (Champion and Clayton, 2001). The introduction of E. azurea into New Zealand is therefore unlikely.
 
Rapid response
 
The US Southern Regional Forest Service (USDA Forest Service Southern Regional, 2008) recognizes E. azurea as posing a severe potential threat to southern forests and grassland ecosystems. E. azurea is therefore included in the early detection watch list of non-native invasive species of southern forest and grassland ecosystems.
 
Public awareness
 
Texas (USA) has declared possession of E. azurea to be illegal; penalties range from $200 to $2,000 for the possession of individual plants (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 2009). Queensland in Australia has declared it a serious offence to introduce, keep or supply a Class 1 pest, imposing fines of up to $60,000 (The State of Queensland, 2009).
 
Eradication
 
E. azurea was eradicated in various locations in Florida in 1988 (Flora of North America, 2009). The methods used to remove the plants are unknown.
 
Throughout New South Wales in Australia, E. azurea is a Class 1 noxious weed which must be eradicated and the land kept free of the plant. As a notifiable weed, all outbreaks must be reported to the local council(The State of New South Wales, 2009). E. azurea has been declared a Class 1 pest plant in Queensland (The State of Queensland, 2009), which means that it is subject to eradication by the state. Landowners must take reasonable steps to keep their land free of Class 1 pests.
 
Control
 
Cultural control and sanitary measures
 
E. azurea could be controlled in the same ways as E. crassipes. Chemical and mechanical removal of this species is often ineffective and too expensive; biological control agents have been used with limited success. The most effective control method remains the control of excessive nutrients and prevention of the spread of this species.
 
Physical/mechanical control
 
Control programmes and/or the management of aquatic macrophytes at local scales (generally in the reservoir main body) will rarely be successful due to continuous colonization by propagules originating in upper tributary segments, where aquatic vegetation is uncontrolled. Thus, despite evident difficulties, aquatic vegetation management should be undertaken at the regional scale (Bini et al., 2005).
 
Biological control
 
There are no reports of any biological control methods using host-specific herbivores or parasites. Carauta et al. (1991) suggests the use of grazing as a method of control, using fishes, birds and, in particular, mammals (capybaras) to control E. azurea in Brazil’s reservoirs.
 
Chemical control
 
There are several herbicides available for the control of E. crassipes e.g.2,4-D and glyphosate, which are only effective on small populations - but none are currently registered for E. azurea.
 

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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A great deal is known about the biology of E. crassipes but this is not the case for E. azurea. Further work is needed, particularly with regard to the potential risk zone of the species, and on the best way to manage the control of the species in the event that it becomes invasive.

References

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25/11/09 Original text by:

Manuel A. Duenas, Universidad de Cordoba, Dept. de Botanica, Ecologia y Fisiología Vegetal. Edificio C-4, Celestino Mutis, Campus de Rabanales, 4071-Cordoba, Spain

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