40 inches (1,000 mm) [51,66]. Other names: Kudzu, Pueraria montana Where did it come from? Perhaps it was while I watched horses and cows mowing fields of kudzu down to brown stubs. Swearingen J, Reshetiloff K, Slattery B, Zwicker S. 2002. The plants are in the genus Pueraria, in the pea family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. By 1900 kudzu was available through mail order and sold mainly as an inexpensive livestock forage. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study, the use of combined management programs can control kudzu more quickly than individual methods in use today.. An invasive weed, kudzu was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s. l… Wilson, the American biologist and naturalist at Harvard, says the central Gulf Coast states “harbor the most diversity of any part of eastern North America, and probably any part of North America.” Yet when it comes to environmental and conservation funding, the South remains a poor stepchild. Kudzu. Terms of Use But in 1935, as dust storms damaged the prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a primary weapon. All 3 leaves will be … Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. The name is derived from the Japanese name for the plant East Asian arrowroot(Pueraria montana var. An endless procession of “kudzu” cafés, coffeehouses, bakeries, bars and even seafood and sake houses are distributed across the South, many of them easily found on the Atlanta-based Kudzu.com search engine. According to research published in 2010 (Hickman et al. It has large leaves, long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and flat, hairy seed pods. Each flower is on a separate petiole that connects to the stem. Posted Date: January 1, 2000 Kudzu is a perennial vine hailing from the pea family. Kudzu was introduced into the US in 1878 from Japan as a Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and New Orleans in 1883 during an exposition. So if the all-consuming-kudzu myth is wrong, where did it come from? Even existing stands of kudzu now exude the odor of their own demise, an acrid sweetness reminiscent of grape bubble gum and stink bug. Considering all the damage Kudzu plants do, it still has many fans. Thirty years younger Kudzu was introduced from Japan to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 as an ornamental and a forage crop plant. Yep, you may smell them before you see them. It was planted with the idea that it could be a solution for soil erosion, but its aggressive spread has proven to be a growing problem rather than an ecological solution, and it's considered an invasive species in the South. Privacy Statement Kudzu can be controlled with glyphosate but it may take several years of … This has earned it the nickname "the vine that ate the South". Why is it invasive? As you walk closer to the vines you will locate intertwined clusters of them. Kudzu has the ability to cycle nitrogen through the soil and the air at a rate higher than many other plants, and research has found that nitrogen rates are higher in areas where kudzu is plentiful. Farmers still couldn’t find a way to make money from the crop. Kudzu was cultivated by civilians who were paid $8 per hour to plant the vine on the top … 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. What helps Kudzu to thrive is its root system that forms very deep in the soil. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. All 3 leaves will be … Kudzu might have forever remained an obscure front porch ornament had it not been given a boost by one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in U.S. history. They were half way across the world in Asia, their native region. Kudzu is most prolific in areas where winters are mild (40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4-16 °C)), summer temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 °C), the growing season is long, and annual precipitation is > 40 inches (1,000 mm) [51,66]. In the end, kudzu may prove to be among the least appropriate symbols of the Southern landscape and the planet’s future. The U.S. government did its best to spread kudzu throughout the South. In addition, Kudzu’s large dark green leaves make a picturesque covereing for rough roadbanks and hillsides along Mississippi’s paved highways. The Kudzu vine can grow up to 12 feet in a day and is not slowed down by poor conditions. For many, the vivid depictions of kudzu had simply become the defining imagery of the landscape, just as palms might represent Florida or cactus Arizona. Give a Gift. In 1998, Congress officially listed kudzu under the Federal Noxious Weed Act. Habitat: Kudzu is commonly found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, and prefers sandy areas with mild winters and hot summers. It has been spreading rapidly in the southern U.S., "easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually". Kudzu is an invasive plant species in the United States. But for others, kudzu was a vine with a story to tell, symbolic of a strange hopelessness that had crept across the landscape, a lush and intemperate tangle the South would never escape. KUDZU ALONG THE HIGHWAY... An oriental legume, whose runners grow from 20 to 50 feet in a single season, has been used in Mississippi since 1936 to prevent erosion. www.forestryimages.org. |. Kudzu bugs are a type of stink bug. The tender nature of kudzu leaves and the large tuber roots make kudzu difficult to control. While you can find kudzu vine almost anywhere in the South by taking a drive on a country road, kudzu root is probably most popular by way of a supplement or as kudzu root tea that can be found at most health fo… It’s as if many have come to view the Southeast as little more than a kudzu desert. For the generations of writers who followed, many no longer intimately connected to the land, kudzu served as a shorthand for describing the Southern landscape and experience, a ready way of identifying the place, the writer, the effort as genuinely Southern. Now there’s a cottage industry of kudzu-branded literary reviews and literary festivals, memoirs, cartoon strips and events. Kudzu: Where did it come from? It has large leaves, long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and flat, hairy seed pods. Kudzu is an ongoing natural disaster that defies containment. Kudzu is a perennial climbing vine native to eastern Asia that was recently found in Leamington, Ontario. Other names: Kudzu, Pueraria montana Where did it come from? 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. This process is ongoing, so repeat yearly until the kudzu plant dies. Kudzu is spreading in the South and control measures are required on large acreages. But the myth of kudzu had been firmly rooted. Though “not terribly worried” about the threat of kudzu, Loewenstein calls it “a good poster child” for the impact of invasive species precisely because it has been so visible to so many. As a botanist and horticulturist, I couldn’t help but wonder why people thought kudzu was a unique threat when so many other vines grow just as fast in the warm, wet climate of the South. Introduction: Americans were first introduced to kudzu at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, where … The Civilian Conservation Corps and southern farmers planted kudzu to reduce soil erosion. Spray the herbicide onto kudzu in spring when it is most vulnerable after winter dormancy. Plant Control:Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control. 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. … Cut the Vines. And how can we stop it?. The plant was first brought to North America in 1876 to landscape a garden at the United States Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The official hype has also led to various other questionable claims—that kudzu could be a valuable source of biofuel and that it has contributed substantially to ozone pollution. Distribution U.S. More than 70 million kudzu seedlings were grown in nurseries by the newly created Soil Conservation Service. Origin and Distribution A native of Asia, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Cultivated in Japan for centuries, kudzu first appeared in the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition's Japanese Pavilion. Kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. list of invasive species. Citation: Miller, James H.; Edwards, Boyd. Kudzu is a perennial vine hailing from the pea family. Uses for Kudzu Plants. Kudzu cares nothing about blue or red states, and it is now found coast to coast and border to border. Look for trifoliate leaves, or formations with 3 leaflets attached at each node. It is also native to the south Pacific region, including Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. It quickly got out of control and became the most infamous type of rampantly uncontrollable, smothering vegetation. These roots are hard to dig out completely. What helps Kudzu to thrive is its root system that forms very deep in the soil. As with most aggressive exotic species, eradication requires persistence in monitoring and thoroughness in treating patches during a multi-year program. Vote Now! Photo credit: DJ Moorhead/Univ. Plant Control:Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control. Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine Revegetation of sites following treatment is an important last step to ensure that any residual kudzu does not reestablish. I’m not sure when I first began to doubt. There is a spot of yellow on each stem of flowers. In the decades that followed kudzu’s formal introduction at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, farmers found little use for a vine that could take years to establish, was nearly impossible to harvest and couldn’t tolerate sustained grazing by horses or cattle. Kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. list of invasive species. Kudzu monocultures typically contain thousands of individual plants per acre . It’s related to five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, P. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni). Kudzu is native to Asia, particularly China, Japan and Korea, and has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. It was first introduced to the United States during the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it was touted as a great ornamental plant for its sweet-smelling blooms and sturdy vines. A study of one site showed a one-third reduction in kudzu biomass in less than two years. Kudzu was introduced into gardens in the early 1900s and was later used for forage. 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. Apply a second dose of herbicide in late summer. As with most aggressive exotic species, eradication requires persistence in monitoring and thoroughness in treating patches during a multi-year program. And though many sources continue to repeat the unsupported claim that kudzu is spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres a year—an area larger than most major American cities—the Forest Service expects an increase of no more than 2,500 acres a year. Many historians believe it was the persuasive power of a popular radio host and Atlanta Constitution columnist named Channing Cope that finally got those seedlings in the ground. What we know as kudzu (Pueraria montana) was brought from Asia to the U.S. in the late 19th century. Today, it frequently appears on popular top-ten lists of invasive species. Invasive roses had covered more than three times as much forestland as kudzu. http://www.invasive.org/eastern/midatlantic. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As you walk closer to the vines you will locate intertwined clusters of them. There is a spot of yellow on each stem of flowers. Kudzu: A Southern Musical toured the country. Origin and Distribution A native of Asia, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. So where did the more fantastic claims of kudzu’s spread come from? You will … The vines can grow up and over almost any structure and literally covers objects with its fast-growing vegetation. It’s related to five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, P. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni). What Are Kudzu Bugs and Where the Heck Did They Come From. The Japanese kudzu bug, first found in a garden near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport six years ago, apparently hitched a plane ride and is now infesting vines throughout the South, sucking the plants’ vital juices. More important, it obscures the beauty of the South’s original landscape, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic metaphor. Kudzu is native to Asia, particularly China, Japan and Korea, and has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. The kudzu is a fast-growing, woody, somewhat hairy vine that may grow to a length of 18 m (60 feet) in one season. The Kudzu vine can grow up to 12 feet in a day and is not slowed down by poor conditions. 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Kudzu was introduced into gardens in the early 1900s and was later used for forage. 7: 165-169. Kudzu, an invasive vine that is spreading across the southeastern United States and northward, is a major contributor to large-scale increases of the pollutant surface ozone, according to a … Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. But scientists reassessing kudzu’s spread have found that it’s nothing like that. Countries were invited to build exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. 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. Tennessee, Alabama and northern Georgia (often considered centers of the kudzu invasion) and the Florida Panhandle are among the areas that the authors argue should be prioritized. Kudzu is spreading in the South and control measures are required on large acreages. In Asia kudzu serves as one of the favorite hosts for many species of insects including the nefarious kudzu bug and, until recently, careful inspections and lady luck barred entry of this insect to North America. It was conspicuous even at 65 miles per hour, reducing complex and indecipherable landscape details to one seemingly coherent mass. Kudzu leaf and flower Now that scientists at last are attaching real numbers to the threat of kudzu, it’s becoming clear that most of what people think about kudzu is wrong. And because it looked as if it covered everything in sight, few people realized that the vine often fizzled out just behind that roadside screen of green. Still, along Southern roads, the blankets of untouched kudzu create famous spectacles. Julia Tyler (1820-1889) was an American first lady (1844-1845) and the second wife of John Tyler, the 10th president of the United States. And that, perhaps, is the real danger of kudzu. 1983. In news media and scientific accounts and on some government websites, kudzu is typically said to cover seven million to nine million acres across the United States. Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine that was introduced to the U.S. from Japan and distributed throughout the South for erosion control. In places where it was once relatively easy to get a photograph of kudzu, the bug-infested vines are so crippled they can’t keep up with the other roadside weeds. They have alternate and compound leaves, with three wide leaflets with hairy margins. In a 1973 article about Mississippi, Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, wrote that “racism is like that local creeping kudzu vine that swallows whole forests and abandoned houses; if you don’t keep pulling up the roots it will grow back faster than you can destroy it.” The photographs of kudzu-smothered cars and houses that show up repeatedly in documentaries of Southern life evoke intractable poverty and defeat. That’s about one-tenth of 1 percent of the South’s 200 million acres of forest. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that while vulnerable species are primarily in the Southeast, most lands protected as federal and state parks are in the West. An oriental legume, whose runners grow from 20 to 50 feet in a single season, has been used in Mississippi since 1936 to prevent erosion. When you attempt to hand-pull or dig out th… All land owners in an infestation area must coopera… While you can find kudzu vine almost anywhere in the South by taking a drive on a country road, kudzu root is probably most popular by way of a supplement or as kudzu root tea that can be found at most health fo… Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences. The Japanese government constructed a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. E.O. Kudzu ( Pueraria lobata) is an invasive vine that was introduced to the U.S. from Japan and distributed throughout the South for erosion control. But it did not become the plant that’s eating America all by itself. Revegetation of sites following treatment is an important last step to ensure that any residual kudzu does not reestablish. 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. It grows quickly over other small plants, trees, and on to structures like telephone poles. The miraculous vine that might have saved the South had become, in the eyes of many, a notorious vine bound to consume it. 7: 165-169. By the early 1940s, Cope had started the Kudzu Club of America, with a membership of 20,000 and a goal of planting eight million acres across the South. All land owners in an infestation area must coopera… 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. 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. When you attempt to hand-pull or dig out th… The vine densely climbs over other plants and trees and grows so rapidly that it smothers and kills them by heavily blocking sunlight. Advertising Notice “The Vine that ate the South” is no longer just a southern problem either. Finch says the figure of 9 million acres appears to have come from a small … Kudzu, known popularly as the "vine that ate the South," has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the American Southeast. K Britton/USDA FS (right) It was an invasive that grew best in the landscape modern Southerners were most familiar with—the roadsides framed in their car windows. Posted Date: January 1, 2000 Currently they have spread through several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Here are a few kudzu bug characteristics: The widely cited nine-million-acre number appears to have been plucked from a small garden club publication, not exactly the kind of source you expect a federal agency or academic journal to rely on. By 1945, only a little more than a million acres had been planted, and much of it was quickly grazed out or plowed under after federal payments stopped. Kudzu thrives through drought and hot temperatures, but continuous removal of all vegetative parts during extreme weather will kill kudzu over time. Kudzu came from Japan.kudzu was brought over from Japan to prevent erosion during WWII. As a young naturalist growing up in the Deep South, I feared kudzu. To overcome the lingering suspicions of farmers, the service offered as much as $8 per acre to anyone willing to plant the vine. Charles and Lillie Pleas were like many homesteaders when they dropped kudzu around their house in Chipley, Fla., in the early 1900s, … Accessed 2006 Aug 21. http://www.invasive.org/eastern/midatlantic. Continue Two popular how-to books, one a kudzu craft book and the other a “culinary and healing guide,” are, strangely, among the most frequently quoted sources on the extent of kudzu’s spread, even in scholarly accounts. These bugs got busy right away laying eggs and migrating out farther across the south. (Pueraria lobata, or P. thunbergiana), twining perennial vine that is a member of a genus belonging to the family Leguminosae. Cut the Vines. The great kudzu invasion all started out with a mistake: The Soil Erosion Service and Civilian Conservation Corp intentionally planted it to control soil erosion in the state of Pennsylvania. Some discovered a kind of perverse pleasure in its rank growth, as it promised to engulf the abandoned farms, houses and junkyards people couldn’t bear to look at anymore. Estimates of the vine's spread vary, from the United States Forest Service's 2015 estimate of 2,500 acres (1,000 ha - 10 km²) per year to the Dep… I found it odd that kudzu had become a global symbol for the dangers of invasive species, yet somehow rarely posed a serious threat to the rich Southern landscapes I was trying to protect as a conservationist. Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, it quickly became a problem because of its rapid growth. Imported from Japan in the 19th century, promoted by the Soil Conservation Service to stem soil erosion, kudzu morphed in a few decades from an … The U.S. government did its best to spread kudzu throughout the South. 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. Those roadside plantings—isolated from grazing, impractical to manage, their shoots shimmying up the trunks of second-growth trees—looked like monsters. The kudzu is a fast-growing, woody, somewhat hairy vine that may grow to a length of 18 m (60 feet) in one season. 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. 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. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade. Kudzu originally was introduced into the U.S. from Asia in the late 1800s for erosion control and as a livestock forage. By way of comparison, the same report estimates that Asian privet had invaded some 3.2 million acres—14 times kudzu’s territory. Native Range: Kudzu is found throughout Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Kudzu is an ongoing natural disaster that defies containment. Read the instructions that come with your herbicide. Kudzu originally was introduced into the U.S. from Asia in the late 1800s for erosion control and as a livestock forage. Bored children traveling rural highways insist their parents wake them when they near the green kudzu monsters stalking the roadside. Cookie Policy There were kudzu queens and regionwide kudzu planting contests. Introduced from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty, but not widely planted until the 1930s, kudzu is now America’s most infamous weed. Yet the popular myth won a modicum of scientific respectability. Though fascinated by the grape-scented flowers and the purple honey produced by visiting bees, I trembled at the monstrous green forms climbing telephone poles and trees on the edges of our roads and towns. 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. Our obsession with the vine hides the South. Provides kudzu resources from sources with an interest in the prevention, control, or eradication of invasive species. By the early 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service was quietly back-pedaling on its big kudzu push. Each flower is on a separate petiole that connects to the stem. The myth of kudzu has indeed swallowed the South, but the actual vine’s grip is far more tenuous. A Faster Way to Get Rid of Kudzu . In the 1930s and 40s, with the country in the throes of the Great Depression and aftermath of the Dust Bowl, kudzu … Currently they have spread through several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. By 2010 the first signs of kudzu bugs were in Alabama. “I thought the whole world would someday be covered by it, that it would grow as fast as Jack’s beanstalk, and that every person on earth would have to live forever knee-deep in its leaves,” Morris wrote in Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood. These roots are hard to dig out completely. Its growth is not “sinister,” as Willie Morris, the influential editor of Harper’s Magazine, described in his many stories and memoirs about life in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. Repeated applications are usually required to kill every root crown. Some of these weed treatments require that you dilute the chemicals with water. Kudzu can be controlled with glyphosate but it may take several years of … The hype didn’t come out of nowhere. Though William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and others in that first great generation of Southern writers largely ignored kudzu, its metaphorical attraction became irresistible by the early 1960s. By Sandra Avant July 13, 2016 . It grows quickly over other small plants, trees, and on to structures like telephone poles. In the often-cited poem “Kudzu,” Georgia novelist James Dickey teases Southerners with their own tall tales, invoking an outrageous kudzu-smothered world where families close the windows at night to keep the invader out, where the writhing vines and their snakes are indistinguishable. In the dictionary next to the definition of "invasive species," they could show a photo of kudzu. Kudzu Origin Kudzu was introduced from Japan to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 as an ornamental and a forage crop plant. A writer for Deep South Magazine recently gushed that kudzu is “the ultimate icon for the South...an amazing metaphor for just about every issue you can imagine within Southern Studies.” One blogger, surveying the kudzu-littered literature of the modern South, dryly commented that all you have to do to become a Southern novelist is “throw in a few references to sweet tea and kudzu.”. Kudzu is a perennial climbing vine native to eastern Asia that was recently found in Leamington, Ontario. The more I investigate, the more I recognize that kudzu’s place in the popular imagination reveals as much about the power of American mythmaking, and the distorted way we see the natural world, as it does about the vine’s threat to the countryside. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Like most Southern children, I accepted, almost as a matter of faith, that kudzu grew a mile a minute and that its spread was unstoppable. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. (Pueraria lobata, or P. thunbergiana), twining perennial vine that is a member of a genus belonging to the family Leguminosae. And how can we stop it?. They have alternate and compound leaves, with three wide leaflets with hairy margins. Kudzu Flower Photo: The vine produces a long stem of beautiful purple to redish-purple flowers. They were first sighted in Georgia in 2009 and are suspected to originate from Asia. But they have a unique look that isn’t hard to identify. Native Range: Kudzu is found throughout Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. “If you based it on what you saw on the road, you’d say, dang, this is everywhere,” said Nancy Loewenstein, an invasive plants specialist with Auburn University. Citation: Miller, James H.; Edwards, Boyd. A native of Asia with many culinary and medicinal uses in the East, kudzu was introduced to America in large part in order to fight soil erosion. Kudzu is most prolific in areas where winters are mild (40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4-16 °C)), summer temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 °C), the growing season is long, and annual precipitation is > 40 inches (1,000 mm) [51,66]. Other names: Kudzu, Pueraria montana Where did it come from? Perhaps it was while I watched horses and cows mowing fields of kudzu down to brown stubs. Swearingen J, Reshetiloff K, Slattery B, Zwicker S. 2002. The plants are in the genus Pueraria, in the pea family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. By 1900 kudzu was available through mail order and sold mainly as an inexpensive livestock forage. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study, the use of combined management programs can control kudzu more quickly than individual methods in use today.. An invasive weed, kudzu was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s. l… Wilson, the American biologist and naturalist at Harvard, says the central Gulf Coast states “harbor the most diversity of any part of eastern North America, and probably any part of North America.” Yet when it comes to environmental and conservation funding, the South remains a poor stepchild. Kudzu. Terms of Use But in 1935, as dust storms damaged the prairies, Congress declared war on soil erosion and enlisted kudzu as a primary weapon. All 3 leaves will be … Southern Journal of Applied Forestry. The name is derived from the Japanese name for the plant East Asian arrowroot(Pueraria montana var. An endless procession of “kudzu” cafés, coffeehouses, bakeries, bars and even seafood and sake houses are distributed across the South, many of them easily found on the Atlanta-based Kudzu.com search engine. According to research published in 2010 (Hickman et al. It has large leaves, long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and flat, hairy seed pods. Each flower is on a separate petiole that connects to the stem. Posted Date: January 1, 2000 Kudzu is a perennial vine hailing from the pea family. Kudzu was introduced into the US in 1878 from Japan as a Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and New Orleans in 1883 during an exposition. So if the all-consuming-kudzu myth is wrong, where did it come from? Even existing stands of kudzu now exude the odor of their own demise, an acrid sweetness reminiscent of grape bubble gum and stink bug. Considering all the damage Kudzu plants do, it still has many fans. Thirty years younger Kudzu was introduced from Japan to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 as an ornamental and a forage crop plant. Yep, you may smell them before you see them. It was planted with the idea that it could be a solution for soil erosion, but its aggressive spread has proven to be a growing problem rather than an ecological solution, and it's considered an invasive species in the South. Privacy Statement Kudzu can be controlled with glyphosate but it may take several years of … This has earned it the nickname "the vine that ate the South". Why is it invasive? As you walk closer to the vines you will locate intertwined clusters of them. Kudzu has the ability to cycle nitrogen through the soil and the air at a rate higher than many other plants, and research has found that nitrogen rates are higher in areas where kudzu is plentiful. Farmers still couldn’t find a way to make money from the crop. Kudzu was cultivated by civilians who were paid $8 per hour to plant the vine on the top … 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. What helps Kudzu to thrive is its root system that forms very deep in the soil. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. All 3 leaves will be … Kudzu might have forever remained an obscure front porch ornament had it not been given a boost by one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in U.S. history. They were half way across the world in Asia, their native region. Kudzu is most prolific in areas where winters are mild (40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4-16 °C)), summer temperatures rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 °C), the growing season is long, and annual precipitation is > 40 inches (1,000 mm) [51,66]. In the end, kudzu may prove to be among the least appropriate symbols of the Southern landscape and the planet’s future. The U.S. government did its best to spread kudzu throughout the South. In addition, Kudzu’s large dark green leaves make a picturesque covereing for rough roadbanks and hillsides along Mississippi’s paved highways. The Kudzu vine can grow up to 12 feet in a day and is not slowed down by poor conditions. For many, the vivid depictions of kudzu had simply become the defining imagery of the landscape, just as palms might represent Florida or cactus Arizona. Give a Gift. In 1998, Congress officially listed kudzu under the Federal Noxious Weed Act. Habitat: Kudzu is commonly found in disturbed areas such as roadsides, and prefers sandy areas with mild winters and hot summers. It has been spreading rapidly in the southern U.S., "easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually". Kudzu is an invasive plant species in the United States. But for others, kudzu was a vine with a story to tell, symbolic of a strange hopelessness that had crept across the landscape, a lush and intemperate tangle the South would never escape. KUDZU ALONG THE HIGHWAY... An oriental legume, whose runners grow from 20 to 50 feet in a single season, has been used in Mississippi since 1936 to prevent erosion. www.forestryimages.org. |. Kudzu bugs are a type of stink bug. The tender nature of kudzu leaves and the large tuber roots make kudzu difficult to control. While you can find kudzu vine almost anywhere in the South by taking a drive on a country road, kudzu root is probably most popular by way of a supplement or as kudzu root tea that can be found at most health fo… It’s as if many have come to view the Southeast as little more than a kudzu desert. For the generations of writers who followed, many no longer intimately connected to the land, kudzu served as a shorthand for describing the Southern landscape and experience, a ready way of identifying the place, the writer, the effort as genuinely Southern. Now there’s a cottage industry of kudzu-branded literary reviews and literary festivals, memoirs, cartoon strips and events. Kudzu: Where did it come from? It has large leaves, long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers, and flat, hairy seed pods. Kudzu is an ongoing natural disaster that defies containment. Kudzu is a perennial climbing vine native to eastern Asia that was recently found in Leamington, Ontario. Other names: Kudzu, Pueraria montana Where did it come from? 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. This process is ongoing, so repeat yearly until the kudzu plant dies. Kudzu is spreading in the South and control measures are required on large acreages. But the myth of kudzu had been firmly rooted. Though “not terribly worried” about the threat of kudzu, Loewenstein calls it “a good poster child” for the impact of invasive species precisely because it has been so visible to so many. As a botanist and horticulturist, I couldn’t help but wonder why people thought kudzu was a unique threat when so many other vines grow just as fast in the warm, wet climate of the South. Introduction: Americans were first introduced to kudzu at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, where … The Civilian Conservation Corps and southern farmers planted kudzu to reduce soil erosion. Spray the herbicide onto kudzu in spring when it is most vulnerable after winter dormancy. Plant Control:Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control. 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. … Cut the Vines. And how can we stop it?. The plant was first brought to North America in 1876 to landscape a garden at the United States Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The official hype has also led to various other questionable claims—that kudzu could be a valuable source of biofuel and that it has contributed substantially to ozone pollution. Distribution U.S. More than 70 million kudzu seedlings were grown in nurseries by the newly created Soil Conservation Service. Origin and Distribution A native of Asia, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Cultivated in Japan for centuries, kudzu first appeared in the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition's Japanese Pavilion. Kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. list of invasive species. Citation: Miller, James H.; Edwards, Boyd. Kudzu is a perennial vine hailing from the pea family. Uses for Kudzu Plants. Kudzu cares nothing about blue or red states, and it is now found coast to coast and border to border. Look for trifoliate leaves, or formations with 3 leaflets attached at each node. It is also native to the south Pacific region, including Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. It quickly got out of control and became the most infamous type of rampantly uncontrollable, smothering vegetation. These roots are hard to dig out completely. What helps Kudzu to thrive is its root system that forms very deep in the soil. As with most aggressive exotic species, eradication requires persistence in monitoring and thoroughness in treating patches during a multi-year program. Vote Now! Photo credit: DJ Moorhead/Univ. Plant Control:Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control. Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine Revegetation of sites following treatment is an important last step to ensure that any residual kudzu does not reestablish. I’m not sure when I first began to doubt. There is a spot of yellow on each stem of flowers. In the decades that followed kudzu’s formal introduction at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, farmers found little use for a vine that could take years to establish, was nearly impossible to harvest and couldn’t tolerate sustained grazing by horses or cattle. Kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. list of invasive species. Kudzu monocultures typically contain thousands of individual plants per acre . It’s related to five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, P. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni). Kudzu is native to Asia, particularly China, Japan and Korea, and has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. It was first introduced to the United States during the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 where it was touted as a great ornamental plant for its sweet-smelling blooms and sturdy vines. A study of one site showed a one-third reduction in kudzu biomass in less than two years. Kudzu was introduced into gardens in the early 1900s and was later used for forage. 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. Apply a second dose of herbicide in late summer. As with most aggressive exotic species, eradication requires persistence in monitoring and thoroughness in treating patches during a multi-year program. And though many sources continue to repeat the unsupported claim that kudzu is spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres a year—an area larger than most major American cities—the Forest Service expects an increase of no more than 2,500 acres a year. Many historians believe it was the persuasive power of a popular radio host and Atlanta Constitution columnist named Channing Cope that finally got those seedlings in the ground. What we know as kudzu (Pueraria montana) was brought from Asia to the U.S. in the late 19th century. Today, it frequently appears on popular top-ten lists of invasive species. Invasive roses had covered more than three times as much forestland as kudzu. http://www.invasive.org/eastern/midatlantic. As trees grew in the cleared lands near roadsides, kudzu rose with them. Kudzu has appeared larger than life because it’s most aggressive when planted along road cuts and railroad embankments—habitats that became front and center in the age of the automobile. As you walk closer to the vines you will locate intertwined clusters of them. There is a spot of yellow on each stem of flowers. Kudzu: A Southern Musical toured the country. Origin and Distribution A native of Asia, kudzu was introduced into the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. So where did the more fantastic claims of kudzu’s spread come from? You will … The vines can grow up and over almost any structure and literally covers objects with its fast-growing vegetation. It’s related to five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, P. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni). What Are Kudzu Bugs and Where the Heck Did They Come From. The Japanese kudzu bug, first found in a garden near Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport six years ago, apparently hitched a plane ride and is now infesting vines throughout the South, sucking the plants’ vital juices. More important, it obscures the beauty of the South’s original landscape, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic metaphor. Kudzu is native to Asia, particularly China, Japan and Korea, and has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. The kudzu is a fast-growing, woody, somewhat hairy vine that may grow to a length of 18 m (60 feet) in one season. The Kudzu vine can grow up to 12 feet in a day and is not slowed down by poor conditions. 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