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(Water Hyacinth family)


This is a family of 32 species of hydrophytes (water plants) in 6 genera found mainly in tropical and warm regions, a few also being found in northern temperate regions (Mabberley 1997).

In its normal tropical habitat, the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes Solms-Laub.) is a noxious weed that chokes waterways; in warm temperate regions it is grown as an ornamental in garden ponds. Some Pontederia L. species are also grown as ornamentals away from their natural range in North America (Hunt 1968/70).

The water hyacinth appears able to act as a contact sensitiser. Another member of the family has reportedly been used in Philippine traditional medicine as an external application to ulcers.

Eichhornia crassipes Solms-Laub.
[syns Pontederia crassipes Mart., Eichhornia speciosa Kunth]
Water Hyacinth

In India, Bhalme & Pasricha (1986) observed positive patch test reactions to the crushed plant material in 3 individuals; no reaction was observed in 7 other subjects.

Monochoria vaginalis C.Presl
[syn. Pontederia vaginalis Burm.f.]

von Reis Altschul (1973) found an herbarium note stating that the corms of this species from the Philippine Islands are powdered and applied to ulcers.


  • Bhalme AY, Pasricha JS (1986) Irritant and sensitizing potential of some common Indian cacti, succulents, lichens and aquatic plants. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology 52(2): 89-93 [url] [url-2] [pmid]
  • Hunt P (Ed.) (1968/70) The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Gardening. London: Marshall Cavendish [WorldCat]
  • Mabberley DJ (1997) The Plant-Book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • von Reis Altschul S (1973) Drugs and Foods from Little-Known Plants. Notes in Harvard University Herbaria. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press [WorldCat] [doi] [url] [url-2]

Richard J. Schmidt

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