The Vine That Ate the South

I’ve told y’all about Kudzu before, right? It’s an invasive vine, not native to the United States, that’s slowly, but surely, consuming the South.

During our ride last weekend, Hubby and I traveled one of the roads I’d ridden during my solo adventure in June. I’d remembered seeing some pretty alarming kudzu growth along that route and decided to stop and capture a few pics for you all.

The guard rail is completely covered and the road sign has almost been obliterated.


I’m guessing that’s a stump on the right of the tree that’s in the process of being eaten.


It’s a very dense and fast-growing invasive plant.


Guardrail in the process of being eaten.


Another view of the disappearing guardrail.


See how dense?


Look out, Mike! It’s coming for you.


I wonder how long it would take to start eating my bike?

Those runners are a lot like English Ivy (the climbing type) and Virginia Creeper. They really dig in.

Kudzu does have some interesting uses, as explained in the following short video.

It can grow up to a foot (~30.5 cm) a day!?! Wow. That really is fast.

I came across the next video at the Duke Today Web site. It’s a bit longer, but has a really cool, artsy, time-lapse element in the second half that I enjoyed. You should watch it if you have time.

Click the link if you’d like to read the full article about the making of the video. The article includes this intro:

To make a film showcasing the landscape of his North Carolina upbringing, Josh Gibson turned not to beaches or mountains or towering Longleaf pines.

Instead, he turned to the ubiquitous Kudzu.

Kudzu Vine from Josh Gibson on Vimeo.

Kudzu-covered objects can be sort of cool-looking, but it hurt my heart to see the overly aggressive invader choking out a bunch of rhododendron in the Jefferson National Forest.

According to that first video I shared, it’s gotten further geographically than I’d thought it had. Do you have Kudzu in your state?

6 Replies to “The Vine That Ate the South”

  1. This stuff just fascinates the heck out of me. I’ve no doubt that it’s keeping tons of secrets out there. There’s no Kudzu in Utah–it’s probably too blasted dry here (thank goodness).

    I liked the videos. The second (artsy) one, though short, reminded me of a great movie from the mid-’80s: Down By Law by Jim Jarmusch. It stars Tom Waits (one of my favorite musicians), Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful), and John Lurie (Fishing with John). If you’re into odd, artsy, black and white films, it’s sure worth a watch. And as for Tom Waits… Well, frankly there are no words to accurately describe his music.

  2. We don’t have any of it yet. We are being plagued with hog weed which looks like a plant called Queen Ann’s lace, but the hog weed is poisomous and can burn the skin with 3rd burns and blind you, terrible stuff.

  3. I have not heard of that vine before. We have wild grape and an ivy that can get quite out of control, but not like your kudzu. We are concerned with the weed Dar refers to as hog weed, here we call it poison parsnip. When I moved to this part of Ontario many years ago no one had heard of it; it had been in the area that I grew up in. It has finally arrived here.

  4. No kudzu here, just blackberries and Scotch Broom as invasive species.

    Health food stores here sell Kudzu (root starch) as a vegan thickening agent. A vegan option over gelatin which is usually beef or pork, etc. I haven’t tried it though.

  5. Ugh, yes we have kudzu all over everything in Georgia. I hate to see it eating everything in its path, and there really is no way to kill or even control it.

    The only upside is that in August, the really hottest part of the summer, it has a purple bloom that smells just like grape koolaid. Check it out!


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