Kudzu Vine Identification

Common & Botanical Name

Common Name
Kudzu

Botanical Name
Pueraria montana

A cabin and tree line completely overtaken by invasive Kudzu vines.
A cabin and tree line completely overtaken by invasive Kudzu vines.
Lobed leaflets of the Kudzu vine.
Lobed leaflets of the Kudzu vine.

Identifying Kudzu

Characteristics
Kudzu is a deciduous, semi-woody, perennial vine. It can grow up to 100 feet long. Young stems are yellowish green in color, with golden and silver hairs. Mature stems become very woody, gray to brown in color, and are entirely hairless. Several native vines can be mistaken for kudzu such as poison ivy, ground nut, hog peanut, grapes, wild cucumber, and bur-cucumber. Soybean leaves somewhat resemble kudzu as well. Some Midwestern states have yet to be invaded by the Kudzu vine, which makes it absolutely essential to prevent the transportation of seeds and roots across state borders.

A 50-year study was completed on the impact of kudzu which revealed stunning statistics. Co-author of the study, Manuel Lerdua, stated:

"Essentially what we found is that this biological invasion has the capacity to degrade air quality, and in all likelihood over time lead to increases in air pollution, increases in health problems caused by that air pollution, and decreases in agricultural productivity..."

Environment
Kudzu is very invasive along forest edges, prairies, fields, wetlands, and roadsides. The invasive vine prefers full sun, which attributes to its upward climbing characteristic. It can tolerate a little shade.

Leaves
The leaves grow alternate each other, and are between 3 and 7 inches long and 2.5 to 8 inches wide. The leaves are also compound with 3 distinct leaflets, similar to poison ivy. Young leaves are hairy, while mature leaves retain hair only on the edges. Leaf stalks can be up to a 12 inches long.

Flowers
The flowers are fragrant and pea-like. They are reddish-brown in color that reside on 6 inch spikes in the leaf axils. The flowers bloom from June to September.

Fruits/Seeds
The seeds are clustered in flat, brown, golden-haired pods that are about 2 to 3 inches long. Each pod contains up to 10 hard seeds. The viability of the seeds vary greatly.

Roots
The roots are starchy and tuberous. The tuberous roots can grow 12 inches deep, and spread by rooting at nodes that contact the ground.

Ecological Threats of Kudzu

Kudzu kills trees and shrubs by girdling them, which cuts off water and nutrient movement within the trees/shrubs. Kudzu can also kill trees and shrubs by shading them out, and can even break branches and uproot plants due to the vine's weight.

Eradicate Kudzu

Eradication
Mechanical eradication can be accomplished by mowing as close to ground level as possible, and mowing should occur once every month for several growing seasons. Burning mower clippings will also help destroy seeds, live stems, and roots. Mechanical control will be more effective if used in conjunction with chemical eradication measures.

Chemical eradication consists of foliar spray or stump treatments that contain clopyralid, triclopyr, metsulfuron methyl, or glyphosate. Directions on herbicide labels must always be followed correctly, and personal protection equipment must be used.

More by this Author

  • Exterminating Sidewalk Weeds
    0

    Weeds that grow in the cracks of sidewalks are unsightly and annoying, but there are several methods of eradicating sidewalk weeds. Mechanical eradication, household remedies, and chemical herbicides can all be used to...

  • How to Use Vinegar to Kill Weeds
    5

    Vinegar is effective as a weed killer due to its ability to draw moisture out of foliage. Household vinegar may also be used in combination with other household items, like salt and dish detergent, to kill weeds....

  • Organic vs Non-Organic Soil
    6

    There are many differences between organic and non-organic soils. Mulch, compost, and manure are organic and will transform a nutrient deficient soil into a rich organic environment for plants. Perlite, vermiculite,...


Comments 1 comment

GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

Looks lovely but what a dreadful killer. Pleased you put the name of the eradicator in there. Thanks.

Good photo!

Look forward to reading more of your Hubs and getting to know you more. Interesting subjects.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working