The Botanical Bane
Pueraria montana/Kudzu/Japanese Arrowroot
The Weed of the South
It was first introduced in the south around the 1800s as a good way to provide shade on the classic southern porches.
In the 1930s Congress propelled the population of Kudzu by establishing the Soil Erosion Service, now called the Natural Resource Conservation Service and gave 85 million baby kudzu to landowners to control erosion and as livestock feed, which seemed like a good idea but as it turns out it wasn't .....
Originally from Japan and China it takes well to the South's moist and warm climate. The ever popular plant, Kudzu has been officially declared invasive in 21 of the 32 states it resides. The growth of Kudzu can be controlled by destroying its roots and crown to stop the spreading or it.
Kudzu is not only delicious to livestock it is also a popular dish to invasivores ( people who eat invasive species, both plant or animals, for enjoyment and to help curb the invasive species population). It can be boiled in the same way as broccoli and there are various cookbooks with instructions on how to cook the plant.
On a more creative note, thhe vine of a Kudzu can also be used for basket weaving.
It is a deciduous plant, losing its leaves during winter and following a frost. However, in the right environment Kudzu can grow around 3 feet a day.
How to know?
- Has trifoliate leaves, typically egg shaped
- Touch to see if leaves are fuzzy because Kudzu has very small hairs on the leaves
- Look for vines covered with small brownish bristles
- Has purple or reddish flowers that are in clusters (called racemes), they bloom around late summer (August or September).
* May be confused with wild grape vines, poison ivy, or the Virginia creeper. But with a further look the trifoliate leaves and golden pubescent young stems will set the Kudzu apart from it's look a likes.
Kudzu in its Enviornment
This showcases it's special skill to climb and cover all that's in its path
This map showcases the areas in the U.S that are affected with the invasive species
It is native to East Asia and some Pacific Islands
Kudzu is a very competitive plant, it suppresses other plants around it by forming monotypic of patches. It replaces the native plants of the area and disrupts the ecosystem. With it's excellent climbing skills it can cover buildings and trees. It can even uproots trees due to the heavy weight of the vines and leaves. It has also been identified as an alternative host to soybean rust.
Once the Kudzu is established its very heard to remove because it has large roots and thick mats of vines, removal can take years and is costly. Eradications is the only way to have control of the plants and regrowth is common so monitoring past areas is key
Why Kill it?
Kudzu should be removed to allow the native plants of the area back and reintroduce them to their ecosystems to put it back in balance. The removal of Kudzu would also benefit trees as it would stop their possible uprootment by Kudzu.
The removal of Kudzu would also be beneficial by allowing better growth of plants. Since it helps hold nitrogen in the soil it decreases soil productivity.
Kudzu also cost the areas it affects millions of dollars with its removal. The sooner they control the plants the less the areas will have to pay in the future to remove it. Removal of the Kudzu will also eliminate the stress it puts on the forestry industry and the railroads by forcing them to spend money for its removal.