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Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Kudzu

Kudzu

Common Name: Kudzu

Scientific Name: Pueraria lobata

Identification: Kudzu is a deciduous woody vine that may reach 35 to 100 feet in length.  The leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, with three leaflets.  The yellow-green to gray vine may reach a thickness of 10 inches in diameter.  Small, pealike lavender flowers appear in June to September.    Flattened pods, 1.5 to 3 inches in length, mature from September to January.

Ecology: Kudzu occurs along field edges, right-of-ways, and near riparian areas.  This invasive vine colonizes by prolific growth along the ground and into tree canopies.  Very few wildlife species use Kudzu.  Kudzu originally was introduced into the U.S. from Asia in the late 1800s for erosion control and as a livestock forage.

Plant Control:Mature patches of Kudzu can be difficult to contain let alone control.  Kudzu can be controlled with glyphosate but it may take several years of follow-up treatments to achieve eradication.  Although there are stronger herbicides available, they may not be appropriate for use in the home landscape. Before applying herbicide, sever climbing vines in trees at ground level. If possible, mow or weed-eat ground level patches during the growing season so that root crowns are visible.  Allow vines to re-sprout, then spot-spray the ground level foliage at the root crowns with a 5% solution of glyphosate with surfactant in late summer.  You can try using a 10% solution or painting the entire node with undiluted glyphosate concentrate (53.8% preferable) to see if that will inflict more damage to the large tuber-like root.  If mechanical vine control prior to herbicide application is impractical, you can spray the stand with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer, but note that non-target plants may be at higher risk with this method. Monitor sprouting at root crowns each year thereafter and re-treat annually until control is achieved.  Persistence is the key.
 
Alternative Native Species: Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), Virgina Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations.  Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.

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