Invasive Species Spotlight – Kudzu

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Kudzu along the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park in Yonkers, photo courtesy of Shawn Gorman, Friends of Old Croton Aqueduct

Name: Kudzu (Pueraria montana)

Origin: Kudzu was first introduced to the southern US in the late 1800’s as an ornamental plant to shade porches. In the early 1900s, farmers were encouraged to plant kudzu for erosion control and in the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted thousands of acres of it along hillsides for that same purpose. Kudzu wasn’t recognized as an invasive species by the USDA until 1953.

 NYS Presence: Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island

 Species Profile: Kudzu is a perennial, semi-woody, climbing vine that can reach up to 100 feet in length! Kudzu leaves are compound (i.e., made up of three separate leaflets) and are oval to heart-shaped. In the late summer, vertically growing stems produce fragrant purple flowers that are followed by the production of hairy, brown, flattened seed pods. Kudzu can grow up to one foot per day, which makes it capable of outgrowing almost anything! This fast-growing plant competes with native trees and plants for sunlight, water and nutrients from the soil.

Roughly 2 million acres of forests in the southern US are covered with kudzu! Let’s prevent this from happening in NY. If found, please report findings to iMapInvasives. Take note of your location, photograph the species and then upload!

Reminder: Poison ivy is another species with three leaflets, so be sure to brush up on your plant ID before handling these species.

Click here to learn more about kudzu.

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