Kudzu - Good or Bad?


Marquand, United States

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Artist's Description

This patch of Kudzu has been growing along HWY 21 south of St. Louis Missouri. The state has been trying to kill this infestation for several years with herbicides but it is still thriving.

Kudzu was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Countries were invited to build exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. The Japanese government constructed a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. The large leaves and sweet-smelling blooms of kudzu captured the imagination of American gardeners who used the plant for ornamental purposes.

There’s so much of this fast-growing vine in the Southeastern U.S. (over seven million acres), you might think it was a native plant. Actually, it took a lot of hard work to help kudzu spread so widely. Now that it covers over seven million acres of the deep South, there are a lot of people working hard to get rid of it!

While Kudzu does help prevent erosion, the vines can also destroy valuable forests by growing up trees and covering them thus preventing trees from getting sunlight. This problem led Dr. James H. Miller of the U.S. Forest Service in Auburn, Alabama to research methods for killing kudzu. In eighteen years of research, he has found that one herbicide actually makes kudzu grow better while many have little effect. Miller recommends repeated herbicide treatments for at least four years, but some kudzu plants may take as long as ten years to kill, even with the most effective herbicides. If not stopped in the areas where the plant is growing it will literally take over the country side!!
(Source – The Amazing Story of Kudzu – LINK

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