Water hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ee/Water_hyacinth.jpg/120px-Water_hyacinth.jpg One of the fastest growing plants known, water hyacinth reproduces primarily by way of runners or stolons, which eventually form daughter plants. Each plant can produce thousands of seeds each year, and these seeds can remain viable for more than 28 years. The common water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) are vigorous growers known to double their population in two weeks.

Estimates for and facts about its huge production capacity are as follows:

  • water hyacinth doubles its tonnage once a week or within two weeks
  • water hyacinth produces between 150 and 300 tonnes of wet biomass per hectare per year
  • this comes down to between 30 and 70 tonnes of dry weight biomass, with averages of 50 tons

Compare this to the most productive dedicated energy crops in colder climates, on a dry matter basis:

  • fast growing hybrid poplar: 5 -10 tons
  • reed canary grass: 6 – 8 tons
  • switchgrass: 10-18 tons

Some uses for water hyacinth include:

  • anaerobic digestion for methane production
  • cellulosic alcohol
  • feed for tilapia in aquaponics
  • livestock feed