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Invasive Plants: Changing the Landscape of America by Randy G. Westbrooks

1998; 109 pp.$15 (specify item no. 024-001-03607-0) Superintendent of Documents, PO Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954 202/512-1800,

The desk encyclopedia, state by state, of disrupting, irrupting species.


A high-climbing perennial vine from eastern Asia, kudzu has alternate leaves and deep purple, pealike flowers. Although the vines are killed each year by frost, the deep fleshy roots survive the mid-winters of the South and resprout with vigor each spring.

1876. The Japanese first exhibited kudzu as an ornamental vine at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Soon afterwards, kudzu became valued for the fragrant purple flowers and the large hairy leaves that provide dense shades for an arbor or a screen for a fence. Later kudzu was grown in the southern United States as a forage crop, to reduce erosion, and to improve the soil.

1935....At one time, the federal government paid as much as $8 per acre for farmers to plant kudzu. Kudzu clubs were formed to promote its use, including the 20,000-member Kudzu Club of America. Soon communities were holding kudzu festivals and crowning kudzu queens.

1946. Kudzu had been established on 3,000,000 acres of highly erodible land across the South.

1955. The plant had escaped its original plantings and covered power poles, trees, shrubs, gardens, fences, and anything else that stood in its path. Kudzu's ability to grow as much as a foot per day during the summer months eventually earned it the name "the vine that ate the South."

1998....The plant poses a serious threat to timberland, because the dense foliage totally blocks out sunlight. Over 7 million acres are estimated to be infested."


ISBN: 078818847X

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