Scientific name: Anthophyta: Dicotyledonae: Rosales: Fabaceae: Pueraria lobata
Common Name: Information Sheet, Kudzu Vine
Photographer: D. S. Kjar
Identifier: D. S. Kjar
Collector: not applicable
Keywords: A alien invasive plant Forest Ecology information sheet Kudzu Vine purple flowers Virginia
Information Sheet, Kudzu Vine
Pueraria lobata (Karl Ludwig Willdenow) Ohwi, Pueraria montana, Cuss-you Vine, Foot-a-minute Vine, Foot-a-night, Green-scourge, Jack-and-the-beanstalk, Kudzu, Kudzu Vine, Mile-a-minute Vine, Miracle Vine, The-vine-that-ate-the-South.
(Fernald 1950, 90; KM: Plate 57)
Alien from Japan.
CT through northern FL and into TX.
General roles in forests.
Kudzu Vine is an autotrophic, alien, invasive species which can cover forest plants and kill them through competition for sunlight.
This Vine can markedly change forest communities.
Many kinds of organisms consume dead and living KV fruits, leaves, roots, and stems.
Specific roles in forests.
Kudzu Vine is scarce through abundant in forests and along forest edges, choking out native vegetation, especially in Southeast U.S.; Kudzu Vine covers trees and kills them, making virtually solid blankets over them.
Kudzu Vine doesn’t just go up a tree and drape down, it can also go back up and down a tree a few times.
Kudzu Vine has destroyed entire woodlots (Kritcher and Morrison 1988, 96).
Kudzu Vine also covers power lines and blankets abandoned cars and houses (Bragg 1997, 24).
The Kudzu Vine on GU Main Campus is confined to a hillside by the Yates parking lot.
Woody, perennial vine, up to 200 feet long.
Leaves: compound, three leaflets, large. Roots: large tuberous, starchy, up to 10 feet long and 250 lb.
A fast growing vine that can grow up to 54 feet in one season.
Its shoots freeze to the ground in the northern part of its range. Flowers: bisexual, zygomorphic, blue-violet, pink, red-violet; a strong pleasant scent of grape jelly.
All known infestations of Kudzu Vine were all of one clone (Mirsky 1999, 74), until Kudzu Vine started producing seeds, perhaps starting in the 1990s.
Kudzu Vine is setting seeds in IL and NC and even more robust lines of Kudzu Vine could arise from these seeds.
Researchers first found the alien Giant Resin Bee (Megachile sculpturalis, a Kudzu Vine pollinator) from eastern Asia in the U.S. (NC) in 1994 (Batra 1998).
Leaf, root, and stem feeders (parasites) include 1 bacterium sp., 1 butterfly sp. ( Silver-spotted Skipper), 6 fungus spp., Cows, Sheep, and other grazing mammals (Bragg 1997, 24), Humans, many nematode spp., 1 weevil sp. (Azuki Bean Weevil, Callosobruchus chinensis, introduced as a Kudzu biocontrol agent), and the White-tailed Deer (Westcott 1973; Horst 1990, 700; Stewart 2000).
In 1996, Kudzu Vines on GU Campus had leaves with yellow patches, cause unknown, but perhaps due to a weed killer.
Cows readily eat Kudzu Vine.
If they graze it down to its roots for 2 sequential years, they can kill Kudzu Vine.
Fruit feeders include stink bugs (Pentatomidae) and other native insects that can kill over 90% of Kudzu Vine seeds in an area.
The Silver-spotted Skipper (butterfly) feeds on Kudzu Vine.
Larvae of each instar make shelters by cutting pieces of leaf margins and tying them down with thick silk tethers.
Larger larvae often tie leaves together.
Professor Martha Weiss and her students found that larvae from Kudzu Vine will feed on Black Locust and that larvae have ballistic frass expulsion (1996).
Do the heads of these larvae mimic ladybugs? Shelter building behavior shows "evolutionary wisdom" and "evolutionary triumphs" (Fitzgerald 1995).
The Cherry-leafroller Caterpillar is about 0.2 inch long and weighs under 1/10,000th oz (Fitzgerald 1995, 30).
It manipulates cherry leaves that easily weigh 150 times as much as it does.
This is roughly equivalent to a 6-ft-tall man, weighing 150 lb, manipulating a 100-ft-long object that weights nearly 11 T.
Pollen and nectar feeders (parasites, pollinators, predators) include the alien Giant Resin Bee which now occurs in MD, NC, and perhaps other U.S. states.
We use Kudzu Vine as an a garden and shade plant, fiber source, high-value livestock food, and soil binder and restorer.
Some people eat a flour made from Kudzu Vine stems and farinaceous tuberous roots (Fernald 1950, 940; Peterson 1977, 182).
Some people make jelly from Kudzu Vine flowers (Lawrence and Linda Justice, POB 6, Dana, NC, 28724).
Chinese mix Kudzu Vine root starch with water and use it as an age-old, popular hangover remedy.
Edith Edwards (Rutherfodton, NC, 73 in 2000) eats Kudzu to keep young.
She uses Kudzu Vine shoots as a broccoli substitute in casseroles, and she stops scarring from cuts by putting a paste of root starch and water on cuts.
Gordon and Deany Martin French fry Kudzu Vine leaves.
Nancy Basket (a part-Cherokee artist and basketmaker, in Walhalla, SC) makes baskets and dyed paper from Kudzu Vine.
For many other uses, see the many Kudzu Websites.
Start with The Amazing Story of Kudzu (www. cptr.ua.edu/kudzu) which covers the history of this plant.
This site links you to many other sites with photos of Kudzu covering autos, barns, houses, trucks, etc.; products (baskets, Kudzupillars, jelly, soap, and syrup); Kudzu humor (The Kudzu Page, ladron.cs.nmt.edu/ ~cort/kudzu).
Kudzu Vine Control.
People control Kudzu Vine by applying herbicides to it, building Wal-Marts on it, hand-cutting it, grazing sheep on it, and mowing it.
A person can kill Kudzu Vine by mowing it for 4–5 years.
Transline (herbicide) works fairly well on Kudzu Vine; however, 1 gallon costs about $300.
It takes several treatments over several years to eradicate an acre of Kudzu Vine.
Researchers are working on biocontrol agents for this plant.
Biologist David Orr, Professor of Entomology, North Carolina State U., works on controlling Kudzu Vine with Soybean Loopers (moths) (Bragg 1997, 24).
Because he is using a Soybean pest, he uses a parasitic wasp to control the Loopers whose caterpillars eat a lot of Kudzu Vine foliage before they succumb to the wasps.
Wasp parasitization increases caterpillar herbivory on Kudzu Vine by 50%.
Researchers are investigating the use of a Chinese armyworm (moth caterpillar) to control Kudzu Vine. They plan to use sterile caterpillars (Mirsky 1999, 74).
We can only hope that some fertile caterpillars don’t sneak into the control effort and find Soybeans to eat, another “preferred” host of this moth species.
It takes a 55-gal drum of herbicide to control 1 acre of Kudzu Vine for a few seasons (Bragg 1997, 24).
The vines eventually sprout from their large roots if they don't get herbicide treatments for several sequential seasons until they die.
The comic strip Kudzu by Doug Marlette (Pulitzer Prize Winner) is about life in the shade of Kudzu Vines in a small southern town (Bragg 1997, 24).
The Sicklepod Fungus, Myrothecium verrucaria, readily kills Kudzu Vine (Becker 2001, 18).
History of Kudzu
People introduced Kudzu Vine into the U.S. in 1876, when it arrived in Philadelphia as a Japanese garden exhibit.
1880s and later.
Kudzu Vine caught on as a porch vine in the South where it brought welcome shade to porches.
Kudzu Vine escaped and continues to escape from cultivation into natural areas.
It is a premier weed that can solidly cover areas up to 10 acres.
It greatly reduces biodiversity.
The U.S. Government paid farmers up to $8 per acre to plant Kudzu Vine on the land to control erosion.
The Soil Conservation Service shipped about 100 million plants from nurseries in GA and AL to U.S. farmers.
Kudzu Vine helped to save the South from erosion due to deforestation.
The flamboyant newspaper columnist and radio personality Channing Cope founded the short-lived Kudzu Club of America.
It sponsored Kudzu festivals where it crowned Kudzu queens and planting contests.
Kudzu Vine covers about 7 million acres in the U.S.
Kudzu Vine might become more common in northern areas of the U.S. due to global warming.
Kudzu Vine increases its range by 12,000 acres per year (Becker 2001, 19).
The Ode to Kudzu is in Kudzu, a Southern Musical
Kudzu is everywhere.
It covers us from here to there.
It's who we are.
It's our destiny.
Kudzu's a friend of mine.
Doggone climbing vine.
Cheap green suit
from the mountains to the sea.
Riddle: What is the proper way to plant seeds of the Kudzu-vine?
Drop the seeds and run like hell.
What are two mock-horror movies named after Kudzu Vine?
Kurse of the Kudzu Kreature, Kuduzla.
Batra, Suzanne W. T.
Biology of the Giant Resin Bee, Megachile sculpturalis Smith, a conspicuous new immigrant in Maryland.
The Maryland Naturalist 42(1-2): 1–3.
Fungi can whack invasive weeds.
Agricultural Research November: 18–19.
In the war on Kudzu, a scientific strategy.
New York Times 7 September: 24.
Fitzgerald, Terrence D.
Caterpillars roll their own.
Natural History April: 30–37.
(Folding and bending leaves hundreds of times their size, butterfly and moth larvae build shelters in the plants before they graze on the greenery.)
They are quiet, patient, deadly, and insatiable.
Alien weeds are stealing our land and killing our native plants.
Love it — or run.
Smithsonian October: 65–70.
E.M.B. (2002, updated 2003 08 05)