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.
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The only contact I’ve had with kudzu was at the beach (by the river) where my friend Bev and I go seaglass hunting. It has taken over an entire cliff. And we don’t really like it because we know there’s a good chance snakes are in there…. That’s why we bundle up and go shelling in the fall/winter!
I think you are right—I suspect there are tons of snakes living in the cool of the leaves and are just hiding there. You are wise to stay away from them.
Kudzu (love saying that word…) reminds me a bit of my morning glories — they are pretty but oh do they love to climb and grow. I think you’re right when you say it all depends whose backyard they are growing in. Kudo’s to you!
Yep—I think they could be likened to morning glories as well due to the creeping nature. And yes—the name must makes me want to say it a zillion times!
Those recipes look good! Have you tried it? I remember you giving me Kudzu soap once.
I have not tried any of them but I think I need to, don’ t you? I just think there is a world of uses for it that still need to be discovered.
And the flowers smell like grape jelly.
Yep. They do!
I wonder if this is the same vine I’ve seen snaking onto trees here in Minnesota. I would consider it highly-invasive.
It might be–not sure how far north it goes but it might have creeped your way. 🙂
I don’t think it’s in Minnesota…but I know here in Michigan wild grapes are everywhere and I think of them as the kudzu of the north.
I bet that is just like the kudzu. I need to take another picture of the sign—it is getting even more covered up. 🙂
My fiance was so excited to see kudzu when we headed south!
It is fun to see it everywhere, isn’t it?
I love the look of Kudzu (and the word) but would never want to deal with it in my yard and stuff! Creeping Charlie is bad enough!
I imagine my love of it would wane if it was in my yard as well. 🙂
I will have to give you the classic Southern girl response to Kudzu. “Uggh. Snakey!!!!” Kudzu is famous for hiding all kinds of varmints.
They do have a company in Atlanta that hires out flocks of sheep or goats to clear your kudzu – always cool to be driving through an in-town neighborhood and suddenly see the little woolly guys snacking away,
Oh yes—I knew goats and sheep were often used for weed control and it makes perfect sense to use them for kudzu. 🙂 And yes–snakey is accurate. I did not say I wanted to frolic in a patch –ugh is right! But I can admire from a distance. Thanks for stopping by!
I never knew anything about kudzu until reading this. Thanks for teaching me a few things today! Until now, my only run-in with kudzu was in an album title (Under The Kudzu) from the country group Shenandoah. I remember back in the 90’s when the album came out asking some co-workers what it was. All I got then was, “It’s some kind of vine that grows in the South”.
There are tons of articles about it online—I read a few including one from Our State magazine and was pretty amused by all the controversy. It is fun to look at but as I said–I would probably feel much differently if it was taking over my yard.
We never encountered kudzu or green briar until we moved here, where we have both. The way kudzu takes out the trees (and everything else) in it’s path makes it a definite irritant. I once read an article about it that stated if you have Kudzu growing in your yard, your yard is good for one thing. Growing Kudzu. Well stated me thinks.
🙂 That seems about right. So note to buyers—don’t buy a house where there is kudzu or you will find yourself vined in your own house someday! 🙂
It can be loved, but it needs to be controlled to preserve native species (and houses). I think anyone who sees this vine should trace and dig up the root. As predators rather than poisoners we can get actual benefit from an otherwise invasive nuisance weed.
I think that is the general consensus. I guess I am a bit too romantic about it or something. 🙂 I just see a beautiful plant but have not thought about how it really takes over in places that it dos not need to take over! Thanks for your insight! As always you have really good points!
Oh gosh, no! Must. Get. Rid. Of. As you say it climbs over everything and then one day you wake up and what was underneath is dead. This is in NY as well along the Saw Mill River Parkway. It’s horrible.
Haha! I can just hear you saying this. I would probably feel less enamored with it if it was in my yard!
It does look very beautiful in that picture 🙂
It is very lush, that is for sure! 🙂 But most people hate it as you can imagine.
Thats great that you find it pretty beth but kudzu releases 4.8 tons of carbon from the soil annually, singlehandedly offsetting the amount that 11.8 million acres of american forest stores away, so kudzu is ruining more than just the foliage it settles over