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Kudzu is a climbing, deciduous vine capable of reaching lengths of more than 100 feet. The plant has leaves with three broad leaflets, up to four inches wide, and yellow-green stems with fine golden hairs. Vines are woody and can be up to 10 inches in diameter. Kudzu produces slender clusters of pea-like flowers in groups of two or three. Seeds are in dry, flattened legume pods.

Kudzu is native to Asia and was first introduced into America in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. It was widely planted throughout the eastern United States in an attempt to control erosion. Today it is found along rights-of-way and stream banks. It forms dense mats over the ground, debris, shrubs, and mature trees, spreading primarily through runners, rhizomes and vines that root at the nodes.

Kudzu kills or damages other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, by girdling stems and tree trunks, and by breaking branches or uprooting entire trees through its weight. Once established, Kudzu plants grow rapidly.

The extensive root system must be destroyed to successfully control kudzu. Mechanical methods involve cutting vines just above ground level and destroying all cut material. Close mowing every month for two growing seasons may be effective. Late-season cutting should be followed up with immediate application of a systemic herbicide to reach the root system.
More Resources:

U.S. Forest Service
Biological Control of Invasive Plants
Non-native Invasive Plants Field Guide
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Manual

Plant Conservation Alliance
Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas
Fire Effects Information System

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