"the vine that ate the South" Where this vine came from (Asia) and why it was first introduced is really irrelevant at this point because Kudzu, 'vine' in Japanese, blankets most of the eastern United states and is rapidly moving our way! After seeing it cover whole surfaces of the forest along parts of the Georgia and South Carolina highways, its chilling to know patches of this stuff have been spotted along the shores of Lake Erie near Leamington, ON. A single plant can cover up to 100x50ft and can grow 50-60ft in a single growing season! The mature plants have a giant fleshy taproot that can grow up to 7" wide, 6-12" deep and can weigh 200 - 300 lbs! The taproots can withstand even harsh winters, sprouting up to 30 new vines each season.
It is interesting to note however, that across much of Asia this vine is used as a high quality forage crop prefered by livestock. Close grazing by a high density of livestock over a number of seasons can eliminate the vines when 80% or more of the vegetative growth is continuously consumed. Another scary tidbit of info for Ontario farmers: Kudzu vine can act as an alternate host and vector for soybean rust.
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