Now that I reside in the wonderful South again I am enthralled with the kudzu vine that appears to grow virtually everywhere. That’s it in the picture that I shot while we were driving up the mountain home one day. Does it look like it is taking over? Maybe just a little bit.
I think kudzu has gotten kind of a bad rap in the whole scheme of things. The kudzu vine is also known as Japanese arrowroot. The climbing and coiling perennial vines show up everywhere in the southern states but are actually native to much of eastern Asia, Southeast Asia, and some Pacific islands. Look anywhere around our area and the vines can be seen in huge quantities and are often considered to be an invasive species.
I guess I feel a little bit sorry for the old kudzu plant. I mean just look at it. It is beautiful. It has the ability to take over anything in its path including road signs and old pieces of trash that might be along the roadside. But it has become the object of many a man’s hatred and I guess if it was taking over my own yard I might feel a tad differently towards the creepy crawly vine.
I did a bit of research and discovered that kudzu was actually introduced into the United States as a an ornamental bush and was highly touted because it was pretty much effortless to grow and provided shade. Kudzu was introduced to the United States at the Philadelphia Continental Exposition in 1876. The vine took on another use in the 1930s and ’40s when it was promoted to farmers as a way to prevent soil erosion. According to a Wikipedia source laborers were paid eight dollars an hour to sow topsoil with the invasive vine. The cultivation covered over one million acres of kudzu. Imagine that. To think that something was praised so highly is now dreaded fascinates me.
Some of the other uses of kudzu include:
Grazing for livestock —it can actually be baled although the process is a little more complicated and the yield less due to the ratio of vine to leaves but it is a great source of grazing for goats especially and in areas where there is limited grazing.
Baskets can also be woven from the kudzu vines and basket makers have perfected methods of either using the green vines or splitting and drying them before using them to make their handiwork.
Medicine is also a use for the prolific kudzu vine. It has been used in Chinese medicine for years but there are quite a few proposed uses for the vine to help ailments and symptoms. Of course if you are considering using it a doctor should be consulted. According to WebMD these are possible uses:
Today, kudzu is used to treat alcoholism and to reduce symptoms of alcohol hangover, including headache, upset stomach, dizziness, and vomiting. Kudzu is also used for heart and circulatory problems, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain; for upper respiratory problems including sinus infections, the common cold, hay fever, flu, and swine flu; and for skin problems, including allergic skin rash, itchiness, and psoriasis.
Some people use kudzu for menopause symptoms, muscle pain, measles, dysentery, stomach pain (gastritis), fever, diarrhea, thirst, neck stiffness, and to promote sweating. Other oral uses include treatment of polio myelitis, encephalitis, migraine, deafness, diabetes, and traumatic injuries.
You can also eat kudzu and there are quite a few recipes floating around online.From jelly to quiche to TEA it has a place in the kitchen. Here is a link to a few that might catch your fancy.
So why are we giving kudzu such a bad time? I say it is time to embrace all things kudzu and love it.
What do you think? Love it or leave it? Any experiences with it that you can share? Don’t forget to leave a comment for our Comments for A CauseFinally–congrats to Stephanie who blogs at The Write Steph for winning the book giveaway by Jena C. Henry. Your Charli books are on the way! Thanks to all who commented and shared the book love.