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Water hyacinth is a free-floating perennial aquatic plant (or hydrophyte) native to tropical and sub-tropical South America. With broad, thick, glossy, ovate leaves, water hyacinth may rise above the surface of the water as much as 1 meter in height. The leaves are 10–20 cm across, and float above the water surface. They have long, spongy and bulbous stalks. The feathery, freely hanging roots are purple-black. An erect stalk supports a single spike of 8-15 conspicuously attractive flowers, mostly lavender to pink in colour with six petals.
Its habitat ranges from tropical desert to subtropical or warm temperate desert to rainforest zones. The temperature tolerance of the water hyacinth is the following; its minimum growth temperature is 12 °C (54 °F); its optimum growth temperature is 25-30 °C (77-86 °F); its maximum growth temperature is 33-35 °C (92-95 °F), and its pH tolerance is estimated at 5.0 to 7.5.