Saturday, April 16, 2016

Spring is Sprunging or Whatever that means... Sunday Snips & Stuff #sundaysnips

This week, because everything is starting to turn green and flowers begin to bloom...so to does the "Plant that Ate the South."  As I see it, it's continuing it's lunch as I type.

I wonder if those who lived in the late 1800s would notice what they  started.  While we innocently plant new landscape to liven up our properties, do we really realize what those little lives can become? Those who concluded Kudzu would be a great prevention of erosion certainly didn't look beyond their horizons.

 I recall when we first visited Tennessee, I was so impressed with the different colors of green, specifically the huge vines adhering everywhere.  I later learned that "vine" is called Kudzu.  I've done a little research...and I want to share this interesting information with you.  I'm copying and pasting from Wikipedia, so I credit them with the content of this blog.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a serious invasive plant in the United 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."

The kudzu plant was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Kudzu was introduced to the Southeast in 1883 at the New Orleans Exposition. The vine was widely marketed in the Southeast as an ornamental plant to be used to shade porches and in the first half of the 20th century, kudzu was distributed as a high-protein content cattle fodder and as a cover plant to prevent soil erosion. The Soil Erosion Service recommended the use of kudzu to help control erosion of slopes which led to the government-aided distribution of 85 million seedlings and government-funded plantings of kudzu which paid $19.75 per hectare. By 1946, it was estimated that 1,200,000 hectares (3,000,000 acres) of kudzu had been planted. When boll weevil infestations and the failure of cotton crops drove farmers to move from rural to urban districts, kudzu plantings were left unattended.
 The climate and environment of the Southeastern United States allowed the kudzu to grow virtually unchecked. In 1953 the United States Department of Agriculture removed kudzu from a list of suggested cover plants and listed it as a weed in 1970. By 1997, the vine was placed on the “Federal Noxious Weed List”. Today, kudzu is estimated to cover 3,000,000 hectares (7,400,000 acres) of land in the southeastern United States, mostly in AlabamaGeorgiaFlorida, and Mississippi. It has been recorded in Nova ScotiaCanada, in Columbus, Ohio, and in all five boroughs of New York City.  NOTE From Ginger...let me tell you, it's everywhere in TN, too.
Kudzu is a perennial vine native to Southeast Asia, primarily subtropical and temperate regions of ChinaJapan, and Korea, with trifoliate leaves composed of three leaflets. Five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montanaP. lobataP. edulisP. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni) are closely related and kudzu populations in the United States seem to have ancestry from more than one of the species.] Each leaflet is large and ovate with two to three lobes each and hair on the underside. The leaves have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, which can supply up to 95% of leaf nitrogen to the plant in poor soils] Along the vines are nodes, points at which stems or tendrils can propagate to increase support and attach to structures. As a twining vine, kudzu uses stems or tendrils that can extend from any node on the vine to attach to and climb most surfaces. In addition, the nodes of the kudzu vine have the ability to root when exposed to soil, further anchoring the vine to the ground. The roots are tuberous and are high in starch and water content, and the twining of the plant allows for less carbon concentration in the construction of woody stems and greater concentration in roots, which aids root growth. The roots can account for up to 40% of total plant biomass.
Kudzu’s primary method of reproduction is asexual vegetative spread (cloning) which is aided by the ability to root wherever a stem is exposed to soil] For sexual reproduction, kudzu is entirely dependent on pollinators.
Although kudzu prefers forest regrowth and edge habitats with high sun exposure, the plant can survive in full sun or partial shade. These attributes of kudzu made it attractive as an ornamental plant for shading porches in the southeastern US, but they facilitated the growth of kudzu as it became a “structural parasite” of the South, enveloping entire structures when untreated and often referred to as “the vine that ate the south”.

Note from me...Kudzu is everywhere, and I wonder why nothing is done to rid this voracious weed when it is dormant.  During the winter, it turns brown and wilts like all other plants here, but come spring, it greens back up and continues its onslaught, overtaking almost everything in it's path.  I guess Kudzu only likes certain trees as our property, very wooded, has been spared being a lunch entree.  I shudder to think what might happen if it accidentally sprouts here.  Notice these  few pictures showing what this hungry plant is capable of doing:


2 comments:

Juliet Waldron said...

My suggestion: start a rumor that eating a distillation made from the leaves will enhance male virility, and the darn thing will be eradicated within 5 years... ;)

Ginger Jones Simpson said...

I like your suggestion. Unfortunately we'll probably see it on TV since nothing is sacred anymore. I'm scared to death someone is going to film me buying Preparation H. *lol* Plus, I'm still trying to figure out what separate bath tubs indicate.

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