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Kudzu, ‘The vine that ate the South’

Here is one of example of non-native species that quickly became an enormous, invasive problem. Kudzu, also known as “mile-a-minute vine” is one of the world’s worst invasive species. This species has become a very serious problem in United States.

The Kudzu vine is native to Japan. It was first brought to the United States in 1876 when it was featured at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was marketed as an ornamental plant and shade for porches in hot southern summers. At the same time, Kudzu, a hardy, fast-growing vine that could help inhibit soil erosion, made it an appealing tool for farmers and ecosystem managers, especially in southeastern US Kudzu has incredibly strong roots that not only form erosion control, but also aid in the improvement of the soil. The Soil Conservation Service once paid farmers in the area to plant it in the 1940s. Along with the beauty and growth speed, the vine could be used as livestock feed or to make baskets or paper. The roots could be foraged for various foods and beverages and also it has even been shown to possess medical properties.

What they failed to mention at the Exposition was just how fast they meant when they said Kudzu was “fast growing.”

The fact is that its individual vines can grow upwards of a foot per day in the right condition. Kudzu kills or damages other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, encircling woody stems and tree trunks, and shrubs. Forest can be completely overrun by the plant in as little as two or three years. Kudzu vines grow up to 100 feet long and can quickly smother anything else that stands in its way. The vine has completely dominated Georgia, and the vine is known as “the vine that ate the South.” (Floro Mercene)

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