Information on Water Hyacinth
- Water Hyacinth (or Eichhornia crassipes) is
a floating aquatic plant, native to tropical America. It has shiny light-green
, circular leaves, that are 2 to 5 inches wide, and attached to inflated
stems. The stems have trapped air, and act as an air bladder providing
the water hyacinth's buoyancy. Water hyacinth has purple flowers in warm
weather. The water hyacinth roots are feathery and a purple-white color.
They usually run from 12 to 18 inches long and they trail down into the
water, providing spawning grounds for fish. New plants grow from
the mother plant (often called daughters) and the water hyacinth tend to
grow in large bunches. Water hyacinth reproduces rapidly and is considered
the weed of the water world.
- Water hyacinths are "planted" in
water, an aquarium of some kind is ideal when using them for experimentation.
The aquarium should have about 2 inches of rich bottom soil and a water
depth of 6 to 18 inches. Fish and other aquatic plants should also
be added to provide more nutrients for the water hyacinth, thus keeping
them more healthy. The aquarium should be provided with allot of light,
artificial plant lights would be optimal. To transport the water
hyacinth from one location to another simply take the plants out of one
location and move them to the other, making sure the roots are kept damp
the whole time. the plants should then be simply floated on top of
the water when they reach their new home.
Use Water Hyacinth for Phytoremediation?
*(To understand this section you must
first know some background on phytoremediation
- Water hyacinth is just beginning to be used for phytoremediation.
This use came about for a few reasons, the first being that water hyacinth
is so plentiful. People have been trying to remove the plant from
many water ways, spending billions of dollars in doing so. In many cases
this removal is nigh unto impossible. It has been discovered that
water hyacinth's quest for nutrients can be turned in a more useful direction.
- Water hyacinth is already being used to clean up waster water in small
scale sewage treatment plants. This plant utilizes vast amount of
many nutrients which are poisonous to humans in these amounts. The
water hyacinth has been shown to remove Nitrogen and Phosphates, as well
as biochemical oxygen demands. In the process of studying water hyacinth's
capabilities in sewage treatment it has been discovered that this plant
removes trace toxic metals as well.
- It's ability to remove toxic heavy metals is what makes water hyacinth
so appealing for treating the water at the UMTRA Site. Studies have
already been done to find out how and why water hyacinth attracts toxic
Happens When Water Hyacinth Removes Heavy Metals?
- Most of the common heavy metals that are in water are positive ions.
One possible theory of a way to remove them would be to put a negatively
charged object into the water and use it to attract the positively charged
ions. This is essentially what we are doing when we put the roots
of a water hyacinth plant into the polluted water. The roots of many
plants, including water hyacinth, have a negative charge to them.
When you put this negative charge into the water it acts as a magnet to
the positively charged ions.
- (the positively charged europium ions are
- to the negatively charged roots)
- My experimentation will be to see if this theory still works after
the roots have been dried and are dead. The theory would be that
the roots still have a negative charge to them after the plant has died,
and that this charge would still be strong enough to attract the positive
ions of a heavy metal.
- (an illustration of what hopefully will happen
when the dried
- ground roots are put into contaminated water.)