The showy, lavender-colored flowers of the water hyacinth make it look beautiful as it creates a thick mat over ponds and streams. But in reality, the South American plant grows as an invasive weed that takes over waterways with its fast-growing vegetation.
Water hyacinth grows as a native plant in Brazil. In South America, seven species of water hyacinth flourish in the country’s waterways. The plant was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s.
Nowadays, water hyacinth grows in much of the southern United States as well as California. The plant appeared in Arizona, Arkansas and Washington, but was eradicated. The plant also grows in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands. To keep water hyacinth from spreading, some states make it illegal to sell or grow the plant.
Water hyacinth grows in tropical and subtropical environments. Since it does not survive deep freezes, states that experience cold winters seem to experience few or no problems with the invasive plant.