Actually, that’s not completely true. Despite days of eradication work, the dreaded Water Hyacinth probably still lurks in the depth of our little man-made pond, Lake Charles. Before I tell you how that project is going, let me just beg you that if anyone, at any time, tries to talk you into Water Hyacinth RUN SCREAMING from the nursery, greenhouse, plant sale or whatever. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PLANT WATER HYACINTH. Anywhere. At any time. In any place. Unless you happen to be in South America, where it is a native. You may think you are not in danger from Water Hyacinth, but it’s beloved by garden shops catering to water features and if you aren’t careful, someone will try to talk you into it. Don’t do it. Remember the Day of the Triffids? Remember the Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Remember Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors? Now connect those monsterous, carniverous, soul eating plant-like aliens in your mind with Water Hyacinth. So that you will always fear the Hyacinth.
Because Water Hyacinth is to be feared. It’s one of the most invasive species around and it’s been choking out waterways from Florida to China to India. It nearly killed Lake Victoria in Kenya. And once it has a podhold, it’s a nightmare to eradicate. Napa County is spending millions to get it out of the Napa River. I’ve seen stories about whole villages in China that have been mobilized to wade into waterways and yank it out. Because if it gets that podhold, it will choke out everything native, cut off oxygen to frogs and turtles, provide prime breeding ground for mosquitos and turn a sparkling flowing waterway into a slimy, sludge-filled swamp seemingly overnight. See that picture at the head of the post. Lucy is looking out over Lake Charles a year ago. See that little tendril of Water Hyacinth snaking toward her leg. Well, it didn’t get her that time, but it did spread alarmingly, created a horrible, smelly anaerobic environment of black sludge.
Yet, garden shops and landscape gardeners will keep pushing it. Don’t succumb. Even if you think you can contain it in a tiny little ornamental pond, it can still spread. We were just lucky to get it before it travelled over the spillway into our Redwood Creek. Again: STEP AWAY FROM THE WATER HYACINTH.
Since we needed to redo the water filtration system with something much more powerful, we tacked Water Hyacinth Eradication onto the job. So today was the day the last of the Water Hyacinth came out. Or came as far out as it could be gotten. This slimey little plant bastard reproduces by putting out shoots that can regenerate themselves as plants even if you yank half of it out. So we know there are still some remnants lurking deep in the mud of Lake Charles. We’ll just have to keep dragging it out as it rears its ugly head.
So folks, trust me on the Water Hyacinth. Don’t do it.
NOTE: In fairness to the Water Hyacinth, it does seem to be able to take heavy metals out of the water. But unless you live near a toxic waste dump, and you are going to be very careful to control it, forget Water Hyacinth.