The vine that ate the South

I moved to a one acre lot in Decatur, Georgia about 6 years ago. The backyard was covered in Kudzu. I kept cutting it back but it grows extremely fast. In a weeks time the vines would extend across my back yard, stretching out (one foot a day) to reach the house. I was able to keep it cut back with the aide of my Stihl Brush Eater blade and kept spraying it with Bayer Brush Killer. I feel I have it somewhat in control at the moment.

In the winter it goes dormant and I cut the vines into mulch all the way to the dirt. A lot of the yard, that was covered up, is mowable now. Kudzu, also known as Japanese arrowroot or Chinese arrowroot, is climbing, coiling, and trailing perennial vines

native to much of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and some Pacific islands. It is considered invasive (an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment) here in North America. The vines grow wildly over anything in its path, eventually killing all below by blocking the sunlight. Kudzu spreads by vegetative reproduction (asexual reproduction growing from a fragment or a cutting of the parent) via stolons (runners)

that root at the nodes (one of two main structural axes, the other being the root). They also produce seeds, only a couple per pod, that can remain viable for several years. They need a lot of water and sunlight to germinate successfully. Kudzu was introduced in the United States as an ornamental, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, in 1876 and spread from the 1930’s to 1950’s for erosion control, which it performs flawlessly. The roots and flowers can be eaten. The mature vines can be 100 feet long.

Kudzu has deep taproots that are hard to kill but constant cutting, especially in the hot summer, is found to be effective. Regrowth appears to exhaust the plant’s stored carbohydrate reserves. Grazing animals, like goats, love the leaves and are effective at keeping the growth under control.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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