“The Vine That Ate The South”

Kudzu is a Japanese arrowroot plant from the pea family. It is a climbing green vine that is indigenous to Japan, China and Korea. In Chinese medicine it cures headaches, migraines, vertigo and many other things. So how does this native Japanese plant come and invade the state of Georgia? Well, it is because of the New Orleans Exposition. In 1883 the plant was brought to the New Orleans Exposition. They showed it and marketed kudzu as a plant for your porch to provide shade and to add some curb appeal with this pretty little vine plant. Little did they know that the seamlessly harmless house plant will grow and invade all of the Southeast growing and crawling at a rate of 150,000 acres ANNUALLY. Not only was it being marketed as a houseplant but also the Soil Erosion Service thought it would be a good idea to grow kudzu to help control the erosion of slopes. So what did they do? They planted over 3,000,000 acres of kudzu seeds! The climate and environment of the Southeast is perfect for the kudzu plant to thrive and to take over. Today there is an estimated 7,400,000 acres of land that has been taken over by kudzu. The vine in its natural habitat grows from spring through fall and dies in the winter so it doesn’t eat China or Japan however because there is no real winter in the South the plant can live on and grow and consume everything in sight. This vine was placed on the Federal Noxious Weed List in 1997. Now we can try to stop it with mowing and herbicide sprays but this can cost $6 million annually or we can provide an invasion of wild goats and sheep to eat up the kudzu. Stay tuned for the sequel: “ The Wild Goats That Ate the South”.  kudzu


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