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Kudzu

Why is it a threat?

Kudzu kills or damages other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, encircling woody stems and tree trunks, and breaking branches or uprooting entire trees and shrubs. Once established, kudzu grows at a rate of one foot per day; mature vines can be 100 feet long.

How did it get here?

Kudzu was introduced into the U.S. at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. From 1935 to the mid-1950s, farmers in the South were encouraged to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion.

How does it spread?

Kudzu is spread by vines that root at the nodes to form new plants.

How can you remove it?

To successfully control kudzu, its extensive root system must be completely eradicated by cutting vines just above the ground and mowing every month for two growing seasons—all cut material must be destroyed. The U.S. Forest Service is searching for biological control agents for kudzu.

What can you plant instead?

Native vines such as trumpet creeper, pipevine, passionflower, native trumpet honeysuckle and native bittersweet have attractive flowers and fruits and provide food for wildlife. They should be used in landscaping and for restoration in areas which they are native.

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