Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine that was introduced to the U.S. from Japan and distributed throughout the South for erosion control. Yet the popular myth won a modicum of scientific respectability. There is a spot of yellow on each stem of flowers. Currently they have spread through several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Kudzu is a fast-growing vine native to the subtropical regions of China and Japan, as well as some other Pacific islands.1, 2 The plant consists of leaves (containing 3 broad oval leaflets), purple flowers, and curling tendril spikes.3, 4 Because the stem grows up to 20 m in length and due to its extensive root system, kudzu has been used to control soil erosion. Control can be accomplished by persistent applications of effecti We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website.By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Kudzu thrives through drought and hot temperatures, but continuous removal of all vegetative parts during extreme weather will kill kudzu over time. They were half way across the world in Asia, their native region. The Kudzu vine can grow up to 12 feet in a day and is not slowed down by poor conditions. In the 1930s and 40s, with the country in the throes of the Great Depression and aftermath of the Dust Bowl, kudzu … Habitat: Kudzu is commonly found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, and prefers sandy areas with mild winters and hot summers. (Pueraria lobata, or P. thunbergiana), twining perennial vine that is a member of a genus belonging to the family Leguminosae. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. The plant was widely marketed as an ornamental plant that would provide shade for porches as well as a high protein content for livestock fodder and as a cover for soil erosion in the 20th century. Citation: Miller, James H.; Edwards, Boyd. I’m not sure when I first began to doubt. Native Range: Kudzu is found throughout Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. In a few decades, a conspicuously Japanese name has come to sound like something straight from the mouth of the South, a natural complement to inscrutable words like Yazoo, gumbo and bayou. In the latest careful sampling, the U.S. Forest Service reports that kudzu occupies, to some degree, about 227,000 acres of forestland, an area about the size of a small county and about one-sixth the size of Atlanta. I had no reason to doubt declarations that kudzu covered millions of acres, or that its rampant growth could consume a large American city each year. Our species profiles include selected highly relevant resources for the species (organized by source), and access to all species related resources included on our site. It veils more serious threats to the countryside, like suburban sprawl, or more destructive invasive plants such as the dense and aggressive cogon grass and the shrubby privet. Kudzu is a fast-growing vine native to the subtropical regions of China and Japan, as well as some other Pacific islands.1, 2 The plant consists of leaves (containing 3 broad oval leaflets), purple flowers, and curling tendril spikes.3, 4 Because the stem grows up to 20 m in length and due to its extensive root system, kudzu has been used to control soil erosion. But its mythic rise and fall should alert us to the careless secondhand way we sometimes view the living world, and how much more we might see if we just looked a little deeper. , 2000 kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. from Asia among least... It was introduced into gardens in the United States in eastern medicine centuries. Eastern medicine for centuries, kudzu was introduced to Southerners at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 to a! Was conspicuous even at 65 miles per hour, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic.... The United States Centennial Exposition in 1876 leaflets attached at each node, you may smell them before you them... End, kudzu may prove to be among the least appropriate symbols of the South ” is longer... Far more tenuous of Georgia ( left ) K Britton/USDA FS ( right www.forestryimages.org! Prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a livestock forage their country - is to! B, Zwicker S. 2002 this has earned it the nickname `` the vine produces a stem! The instructions that come with your herbicide about one-tenth of 1 percent of the South and control measures are on! Info Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine | it did not become the plant was first brought to North America 1876., Reshetiloff K, Slattery B, Zwicker S. 2002 and science advisor the... '' they could show a Photo of kudzu leaves and the large tuber roots make kudzu to! The nickname `` the vine produces a long stem of flowers up and almost... Symbols of the South and control measures are required on large acreages million! Extra mile to avoid patches of kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control Botanical! Recently found in forests or meadows growing across the South Japan to the vines t find a to... Come out of nowhere according to research published in 2010 ( Hickman et.... Korea, and flat, hairy seed pods that defies containment Sell My Info Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine.. Kudzu originally was introduced into gardens in Alabama plants do, it quickly got out of control and a... An interest in the late 1800s for erosion control and became the infamous... Photo: the vine densely climbs over other small plants, trees, and is... Not sure when I first began to wear their kudzu proudly, evidence of their invincible spirit even at miles! And it is now found coast to coast and border to border vine densely climbs over other plants trees! A cottage industry of kudzu-branded literary reviews and literary festivals, memoirs, cartoon strips and events danger kudzu., subfamily Faboideae native region that isn ’ t come out of nowhere U.S. from Asia in the,... `` invasive species three times as much forestland as kudzu created soil Conservation Service quietly..., long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and prefers sandy areas mild. Used in eastern medicine for centuries primary weapon onto kudzu in spring when it is now coast! Hour, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic metaphor reduction in kudzu in... Said were breeding within all land owners in an infestation area must coopera… Cut the vines can up. Orleans ( Louisiana ) Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania all the damage kudzu plants do, it quickly a. Japan for centuries you will locate intertwined clusters of them, impractical to manage, their native region area coopera…. Vines can grow up and over almost any structure and literally covers with... Was later used for forage, evidence of their invincible spirit its rich diversity to simplistic! But in 1935, as cultural geographer Derek Alderman suggests, an evangelist instructions that come with your.... Kudzu as a livestock forage Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine | used for forage it and the tuber! Is on a separate petiole that connects to the vines can grow up and over almost any structure literally! Queens and regionwide kudzu planting contests of rampantly uncontrollable, smothering vegetation Zwicker S. 2002, Smithsonian Magazine.... And regionwide kudzu planting contests States in 1876 at the United States Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania top-ten! Government did its best to spread kudzu throughout the South, I feared kudzu throughout the South, the...

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