Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a serious invasive plant in theUnited States. It has been spreading in the southern U.S. at the rate of 150,000 acres (61,000 ha) annually, "easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually." Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences. This has earned it the nickname, "The vine that ate the South."
Kudzu kills or damages other plants by smothering them under a blanket of leaves, encompassing tree trunks, breaking branches, or even uprooting entire trees. Once established in a habitat, kudzu is able to grow very quickly. Kudzu can grow up to 60 feet per season, or about one foot per day.
In addition to its abilities to obtain nutrients and spread quickly, kudzu leaves have paraheliotropic movements, meaning that they move in response to the movement of the sun in order to maximize photosynthetic productivity.
The economic impact of kudzu in the United States is estimated at $100–500 million lost per year in forest productivity. In addition, it takes about $5,000 per hectare (2.5 acres) per year to control kudzu. For power companies, it costs about $1.5 million per year to repair damage to power lines.
Control: Most mechanical means of kudzu removal practiced in the southeastern United States involve mowing the vine or cutting it back. These methods, though more effective than herbicides, are more time consuming. Vines must be mowed down just above ground level every month or two during the growing season in order to prevent them from growing back. When using this method of kudzu control, all of the plant material must be removed and/or destroyed (burned) to prevent the vines from taking root and re-growing. Another method of mechanical removal is to remove the crown of the plant. This part must also be destroyed to prevent re-implantation.
For more details see:
Kudzu in the United States