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Monday, September 19, 2011

Kudzu Kountry

Yup, that’s what we were in during our road trip to North Carolina. And, it’s where we saw . . .

The vine that’s eating the south OR kudzu.


kudzuNC 0918 (19)
Kudzu is a climbing, coiling and trailing vine that takes over anything in comes in contact with – fields, mountainsides, trees, utility poles – even the remains of a building.what building917Its name comes from the Japanese name for the plant, Kuzu. It spreads by vegetative expansion, via stolons (runners) that root at the nodes to form new plants and by rhizomes.
kudzu collageNC
Kudzu was introduced into the U.S. in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was promoted as an ornamental and forage crop. In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. Southern farmers were paid up to $8/acre to plant fields of the vines to reduce soil erosion.
kudzuNC 0918 (11)
Its flourishing in too well it and covers over seven million acres of the deep South and the climate of the southeastern U.S. is perfect. The vines grow as much as a foot per day during summer months, climbing trees, power poles, and anything else they contact. Under ideal conditions kudzu vines can grow 60 feet annually.
kudzu collageNC3
kudzu collageNC2
Because of its out of control growth in the southeastern U.S. kudzu is known by several names. . . foot-a-night vine, mile-a-minute vine, and the ever-popular vine that ate the South.The U.S. government stopped promoting kudzu in 1953, declaring it a weed in 1972 and a noxious weed in 1998. It has also been banned in 31 states.

The USDA National Invasive Species Information Center has an informative and entertaining video here.
However, the news about kudzu isn’t all negative:
  • Its shown promise for treating Alzheimer’s' disease and may help diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Harvard Medical School is studying it as a possible  treatment for alcoholism by turning an extracted compound from kudzu into a medical drug.
  • In traditional Chinese medicine, kudzu is considered is used to treat tinnitus and vertigo.
  • Vines have been used to create basketry and clothing.

14 comments:

ancient one said...

yep, that vine is a pain. On the edge of our town it is really covering a lot of the trees along the edge of the road. Wisteria vines mingle among them, but the kudzu is winning. I live down east in NC.
I am really enjoying your posts. We visited a flea-mall in Andrews once.

Elaine said...

Very interesting! It'a amazing how plants that are introduced to correct one problem can end up causing lots more problems. You forgot one thing about kudzu that isn't negative--it makes for some great photos.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello Beatrice,

Very interesting information about kudzu. The possibilities of using this vine for soil conservation holds much attraction because soil erosion in many parts of the world is causing serious concern.

Any thing that is uncontrolled will go out of bounds and kudzu is no exception. It is amazing to see how nature helps plants to survive and proliferate.

Many thanks for this interesting information and lovely photos.

Best wishes,
Joseph

Anvilcloud said...

If it's good for Alzheimers, maybe I should go sit in a field of it.

Out on the prairie said...

I hope you stayed safe from it.It is wild how it covers all.

Mama-Bug said...

That stuff is everywhere down here in my neck of the woods too. I've seen old buildings so completely covered with it you almost didn't know a building was in there.

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

Thankfully our climate stops most of those kinds of plants! But I have to say I´m impressed by it!

Not good when this happens though since plants like that kills native plants to get the space it requires.

Have a great day!
Christer.

Denise said...

Oh my gosh, your photos are great and this is a fascinating weed. Unfortunately showing the devastating effects of yet another introduced species that was thought to be a good thing way back when and now it's taking over. I remember seeing kudzu years ago on a trip down south, but did not know any of its history. Great post!

Daisy said...

I'm not familiar with that type of vine. Very interesting. I hope they can do more to develop it for good causes.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Bringing things into this country almost never works out for the thing brought in or for the country it is brought into. The European Starling, several bugs I have heard of but can't think of at the moment, but the Japanese Beetle is one, and, Kudzu. I have seen it covering entire barns in the south. I have no idea what that means to get rid of but they say it can't stand cultivation. How would one cultivate it on a barn? lol

Sorry, it isn't funny.

Eggs In My Pocket said...

It really takes over! Just wanted to say hello! blessings,Kathleen

NCmountainwoman said...

Here in the south little children (and adults) look for figures and animals in the kudzu just as we look for them in the clouds. A kudzu Jesus is a shoo-in for a photograph in the newspaper.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Thanks Everyone for your comments and for telling me even more about this invasive vine. As several folks noted cultivating this plant has turned it into the monster it's become now. As far as I could tell, there isn't much being done to stop its expansion.

It does make for great photos as Elaine and Daisy noted.

Thanks Joseph. It seems the good intentions for using this plant to stop soil erosion did TOO well.

AC, good thought and maybe we should join you in sitting there. Now what were you talking about?

Mama-Bug and Abe, there were many old buildings virtually covered with these vines. They made for interesting scultures which I realized only after the train had gone by.

Country Mouse Studio said...

I heard about that plant. wow, the photos really show how bad it's gotten.

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