Kudzu: The Vine That Didn’t Quite Eat the South

Jul 10, 2017

A familiar sight on Southern country roads, and sometimes in towns, is kudzu.  The ubiquitous and fast-growing vine was imported from Asia as a decorative plant in the late 19th century, and promoted during the 1930s and 40s as forage for livestock and control for erosion.  According to Clemson Extension agent Dr. Tim Davis, it didn’t quite work out that way.  The plant, which can grow up to a foot a day, spread rapidly throughout the South.  But Davis and Dr. John Nelson, curator of the USC Herbarium, say kudzu is not the worst invasive plant out there, and kudzu can actually can be controlled more easily than many think, both chemically and naturally.  Both agree, however, it’s not going anywhere, and the plant has become, and will likely remain, an icon of the South.