What Is Kudzu?

The most enjoyable part of a garden is the flowers in a flower garden and the tasty vegetables in a vegetable garden. On the other hand, the worst part is the presence of weeds.

Plants have numerous uses. They are consumed as food and grass is used for sports. However, there are also plants that are undesirable. For instance, poison ivy is a plant that everyone would like to have less of in their lives.

There is another plant that has invaded the southeastern part of the United States and many people want to eliminate it. What is it? It is the green blanket called kudzu!!

Scientists estimate that kudzu covers more than seven million acres in the southeastern U.S. It is a fast-growing vine that thrives in the warm and moist weather of the south. It grows so well that it might be mistaken for a native plant, but it is not!

Kudzu was first introduced to the U.S. in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An exhibition of Japanese plants showcased kudzu, and American gardeners started using it in their gardens. They were attracted to its large leaves and fragrant blooms.

In the 1920s, Charles and Lillie Pleas, a couple from Florida who owned a plant nursery, began selling kudzu through mail orders across the country. They promoted it as a good plant for forage, as they discovered that animals would eat it.

In the 1930s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service encouraged the use of kudzu along highways and other areas with erosion problems. Scientists found that kudzu was effective in preventing erosion in the areas where it was planted.

Unfortunately, over time, scientists discovered that kudzu grows excessively. Since it originated from Japan, kudzu has no natural insect predators and it is extremely difficult to remove once it starts growing. And once it starts growing, it becomes a problem!

Kudzu vines can grow up to a foot per day in warm months. In areas where kudzu grows uncontrollably, it is considered a harmful weed because it can rapidly cover trees and shrubs. Although kudzu vines help prevent erosion, they can also kill trees and beneficial plants by blocking their access to sunlight and nutrients.

Several herbicides have been developed to combat kudzu. Unfortunately, some of these herbicides seem to stimulate even faster growth of kudzu! The effective herbicides can take from four to ten years to completely eradicate kudzu from an area.

Some individuals have found creative uses for kudzu despite its negative impact. Some use it as food for grazing animals, while others use it to make baskets. Some people have even created recipes to turn kudzu into human food!

In addition to herbicides, various methods have been developed to eliminate kudzu. These methods include burning, grazing, mowing, and even a special fungus that may function as a natural herbicide!

Try It Out

Are you ready to learn more about kudzu? Enlist the help of a friend or family member to explore the following activities:

If you’re interested in studying weeds up close, put on some gloves and start pulling weeds around your house. Ask your parents to point out areas that need cleaning up. They will appreciate your hard work in making the yard more beautiful! After you’re done, take a closer look at the weeds you pulled before throwing them away. How are they similar? How are they different? Are there any that you find beautiful? Do any of them resemble plants or flowers rather than just simple weeds?

Are there any kudzu plants in your area? Ask a friend or family member to help you search for kudzu around your house or neighborhood. If kudzu doesn’t grow in your area, there are likely other invasive species that cause problems. Research online or visit a local garden center to learn more about invasive species you should be aware of in your area.

Do you have a weed issue in your garden or around your home? How can you get rid of them? Should you use chemical weed killers? Look up “7 Chemical-Free Homemade Weed Killers” online. What reasons does the article provide for avoiding chemical weed killers? What alternatives are suggested? Which ones do you think could work for your house or garden? Give one of them a try and see how it works. Don’t forget to share your results with friends and family members.

Sources of Wonder:

– http://www.maxshores.com/kudzu/ (accessed 31 Jul 2023)

– http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/plants/kudzu.shtml#.UEeSOZMljnM (accessed 31 Jul 2023)

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