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Growing kudzu  RSS feed

 
Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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+1,000,000 to what Max said. VERY dangerous, almost as dangerous as GMO's, to introduce a new species--especially one to be known invasive somewhere else.

I am going to say that it can't grow in the desert, or it would already be there. It isn't very cold tolerant, but other than that it seems to be unstoppable.
 
Posts: 165
Location: Slovakia
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Having lived in Georgia for most of my life, it seems like the defining characteristic of kudzu is that it grows and takes over places that are neglected. Of course, a lot of that neglected area is the margin on the side of the interstates (which everyone drives on to get around Atlanta since 3 interstates plus beltway (I-20, I-75, I-85, I-285) meet in Atlanta), so I think it makes a great impression on people as consuming the south.

However, what comes to my mind is that on the drive to the farm to get raw milk, 1/4 mile before the farm, I pass a field of kudzu which is also climbing up some trees on the edge of it. The only reason I even remember it is because of seeing in the middle of the field (during fall/winter when it had died back some) some sort of big ground hog. But now it occurs to me that the fields of the farm, the various other fields and houses in that street, were not overrun by kudzu, in-spite of that 5 acre field nearby filled with it.
 
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The way I understand it kudzu only flowers when it can climb. I don't believe growing the plant is trying to outsmart nature, not that that could be done anyway. It grows in Japan and China without being considered a problem and the Japanese think that we are crazy for trying to eradicate it instead of use it. All that being said I don't have experience with the plant so I am not speaking from experience. But I am with Paul on this one. There is probably a safe and responsible way to grow kudzu. Perhaps not in humid hot climates but cold or Mediterranean climates may produce great results. Where I live the summer is long, hot and dry. My point, i think, is that we shouldn't ignore the benefits of this plant because people have failed to use it wisely in the past. But this is just my opinion no disrespect to others views.

Young plants are easier to eradicate as their roots are not as deep, so perhaps intensive management and replanting after occasional culling may be a viable way to control and profit from the plant. Culling and harvesting being the same thing (the roots are used by herbalists and the Japanese use it for medicine as well as a number of other products).

Just some thoughts guys don't attack me for being devils advocate
 
Posts: 408
Location: Georgia
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paul wheaton wrote:I suspect that in the north it will be a poorly performing annual.




The Grand Canyon could use some ground cover during the summer months! It is catastrophe down South.
Your hero talks about such things. Kudzu is one. It may freeze in Missoula but I would not chance it.
 
James Colbert
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Question: Is it ethically "ok" to grow an invasive species if it is already growing in your area. For example if i lived in Georgia and there is Kudzu growing everywhere would it really be doing harm to cultivate and harvest the plant and thus control it where it was intentionally grown? Doing a little Google research it seems people are already doing it. Seems like a better option to spraying acres and acres with powerful herbicides. I believe I read that there is a booming goat industry in Kentucky because of Kudzu. Much of the problem seems to have been created by the fact the the US government planted kudzu all over the place and then just left it to do its own thing (I think we all agree that many government officials are not the sharpest crayon in the pack).

So hypothetically what would the opinion of kudzu be if people used it for food, fodder, fiber, paper, medicine, bio fuels etc etc. from the start. Would it even have been considered invasive? People could have used it all along as a means of control. Instead we are spending millions of dollars a year to spray poison on a very useful plant. Its here, lets make the best of it.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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James I think if it is already on your property it is perfectly fine to use it and keep it under control but
if you introduce it into a new area I think you are in the wrong. People tend to move around and the next
person may not control it and it will continue to spread and engulf the landscape.

We have hogs and goats and all manner of things that eat it but it outgrows them and the chemicals as well.
When it gets into a forest you can pretty much write that area off for anything but slow death.
 
Posts: 484
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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James Colbert wrote:Question: Is it ethically "ok" to grow an invasive species if it is already growing in your area.



This is a different question from introducing it. I guess it depends on several questions. Is it already on your land? Will it enhance/destroy biodiversity? if it is not already on neighbours land and it "trespasses" from yours will you accept full cost and responsibility in eradicating it from your neighbours property should they not want it? If the region finds a way of controlling this generally unwanted invader will you be willing to have your island of infection eradicated at your cost? Are you leaving a problem to future generations? Personally, I'd have to say yes, enhance, yes, yes, no in that order to even consider it ethical to grow. So, since this is a very unlikely scenario I'd have to say in general it does not meet the ethics of permaculture.
 
Max Kennedy
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James Colbert wrote:The way I understand it kudzu only flowers when it can climb.



Not the devil but not taking into account the adaptability of nature. I have several plants in my lawn that normally flower high but because they are regularly mowed some have adapted to flower low and not be cut off with the lawnmower. I suspect that if Kudzu is stressed similarly, by having nowhere to climb, being eaten by hogs, being scythed /harvested regularly etc that it will adapt similarly. I have no proof of that but seeing other plants do it would make me very cautious in saying "kudzu ONLY flowers when it climbs"!
 
James Colbert
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Max Kennedy wrote:

James Colbert wrote:Question: Is it ethically "ok" to grow an invasive species if it is already growing in your area.



This is a different question from introducing it. I guess it depends on several questions. Is it already on your land? Will it enhance/destroy biodiversity? if it is not already on neighbours land and it "trespasses" from yours will you accept full cost and responsibility in eradicating it from your neighbours property should they not want it? If the region finds a way of controlling this generally unwanted invader will you be willing to have your island of infection eradicated at your cost? Are you leaving a problem to future generations? Personally, I'd have to say yes, enhance, yes, yes, no in that order to even consider it ethical to grow. So, since this is a very unlikely scenario I'd have to say in general it does not meet the ethics of permaculture.



If kudzu were cultivated on an island or chinampa where it was heavily grazed or mowed in late summer throughout fall and into early winter it can be prevented from setting seed. It rarely propagates from seed but this method would prevent even this rare chance from occurring within a reasonable degree of certainty. Kudzu propagates primarily through runners meaning that an island can and will contain the runners. That is unless kudzu changes its genome to become aquatic...

Furthermore multiple islands could be used in 2 or 3 year cycles in which a kudzu island is harvested/eradicated and the now enriched soil is used to grow annual crops. The now "annual crop" island is intensively managed to insure no kudzu regrowth. The younger kudzu is the easier it is to eradicate hence the 2 -3 year grow cycle. After 10 years the roots are so deep that organic methods of eradication become ineffective.

Further-furthermore the department of ag has developed an organic herbicide based on fungus that appears extremely effective against kudzu, causing plant necrosis within a few hours of application. I believe more research is needed to consider this a practical solution to the problem of kudzu growth but it seems to be a viable future option at least on the small (pond island sized) scale.

Based on the above it would seem that kudzu is as reasonable to grow on an island as running bamboo is, if properly managed. If it is unethical to grow kudzu shouldn't the same hold true for running bamboo? Of course running bamboo does not flower anywhere near as often as kudzu, perhaps once every couple hundred years, but the possibility still exists that some future generation will be dealing with rampant groves of invasive bamboo because of seed propagation however rare.

Thoughts, critiques, comments... this is a good discussion!
 
Max Kennedy
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James, you say "It rarely propagates from seed but this method" which doesn't mean never. You didn't address the main questions of accepting responsibility, financial and otherwise, if/when it does escape. If you won't then it is unethical, very simple. The excuse, well I didn't expect it to get away, just isn't good enough. That type of externalizing responsibility to others is what allows corporations to cause massive damage yet not have the cost on their books nor imbedded in their products. It is also, to my mind, the antithesis of permaculture. Will you, personally, be responsible for what results good or bad?
 
pollinator
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What Max said. There has already been so much irreparable damage done with plant introductions. You are taking an incredibly complex system, countless components that have co-evolved for eons, untold hidden interactions and feedback systems and gambling with a big bomb. No one thinks they are doing something ignorant or irresponsible with an introduction...but the system is too complex to fully understand, and it's impossible to predict outcomes without making the experiment. You are guessing, and if you happen to be wrong you've created an ecosystem level disaster and spelled the end for a unique, distinct and beautiful ecosystem that's taken forever to evolve in your part of the world.

In the past people didn't realize what the consequences of their actions could be...now we've seen what can happen, and causing more of it is inexcusable.

Once the genie is out of the bottle you will not get it back in. It's not a fight you can win. I've spent years working as a biologist on invasive species control. We have incredibly rare and beautiful ecosystems that are forever on life support now...they will continue to exist in some form on a limited scale as long as some government agency is willing to throw a ton of money and labour and expertise at maintaining them...but the instant that stops, they're gone. It's not worth it for a pretty garden plant.

It's a way better permaculture challenge and much more respectful of earth to try and mesh with your own ecosystem, to find ways to use native plants and the native ecology to support yourself. There are already a ton of agronomic species already introduced everywhere for you to choose from if you need them, without introducing anything so potentially dangerous.

 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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james...the plant will be there forever, for all intents and purposes. What happens when you are dead and gone and no one is around to care or bother with your mowing and grazing regime. Or if the mowing and grazing misses the one flowerhead that's hidden and hard to reach. What happens when the watercourse changes and the island isn't an island anymore? What happens in a rare flood event when the shoreline slumps and roots are carried downstream or washed by waves? If it's invasive it Will get away.
 
James Colbert
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I never said anything about not taking responsibility for growing the plant. If it spreads and its your fault of course it is your responsibility to take care of it. What I did ask was if you cant grow kudzu responsibly then how can you grow running bamboo responsibly? All of the concerns you expressed hold true for running bamboo. Intense flooding could ruin your barrier allowing it to spread. It could flower and spread seed via birds over a wide area. etc etc. How can we justify black locust, they are invasive. Following this logic we should only use native species within our perma-culture design as any foreign species has the ability to become invasive. Now that's a fine stance. One I cant argue against... but do you really believe that? Do you not have any foreign species in your garden/farm?

If the species is already growing in your area as well and you use the method I proposed can you honestly say your doing more damage? Your just using something that would otherwise be sprayed with toxic chemicals that are ineffective in controlling the invasion. So the way I see it is, we could use it, deplete the invasion by doing what humans seem to do best (unfortunately) -- consume. Or we can spend millions of dollars each year to fight a losing battle. And if you haven't checked the stats let me tell you we are losing the battle big time.

I am not denying that kudzu is invasive, extremely invasive, or that it can destroy ecosystems. I'm simply stating the obvious, its here, it's part of the ecosystem now and despite our best efforts as humans with our clever little lumps of head meat, the best we have come up with is poison it, the environment, and ourselves. Wouldn't abandoning chemicals for productive industry like goats, fiber production, medicine, food, and bio-fuels be a better means of control? Wouldn't that be more in line with nature? Working with the goddess instead of against her?

Oh yea and I don't believe the statement "the plant will be there forever" is quite accurate, in my previous post i gave a credible means of eradication. 2-3 year grow cycle, heavy mowing/grazing during flowering and a fungal herbicide that kill kudzu but won't cause lasting damage to the soil. By not allowing the kudzu to get "old" you can eradicate it much easier than older plants. It can be removed from an area if done properly and monitored diligently.

Now I should mention, all this being said it would be hard to profit from kudzu because most of it is sprayed with toxins and if you did cultivate it you would get fined up the wazoo making the business model unsustainable. This is because of our government and its bureaucracy. The same government that put the kudzu there unattended in the first place. mmm mmm now that's some good irony.

So you guys don't get mad, know that I am completely playing devils advocate here. I am not planning on growing kudzu anytime in the future so don't be afraid of crazy James and his kudzu obsession lol. I do believe however that I have aptly addressed your concerns about kudzu. It can be contained, it can be used, at the very least to the same degree as running bamboo. So I believe it can be grown responsibly. Should it be? I don't know but the same holds true for running bamboo, should we be growing that outside its natural habitat? I get the feeling that the fear of kudzu has lead to some irrational beliefs about its malicious intent towards man. "Let's not even consider cultivating or using the plant we must just kill it, that's the only viable option." How well has that mindset been working for us? It is currently spreading at 60,000 ha a year! We need a different plan...
 
Max Kennedy
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The answer is still the same, bringing in an invasive is not ethical nor responsible, promoting it's growth even if already in your area is almost as bad. Running bamboo takes a bit longer to establish and is somewhat easier to eradicate but still isn't an ethical choice. Not saying it isn't done but where it can get out of control it isn't ethical. I am going to disagree with your statement "it can be grown responsibly". That's what was believed of cane toads, asian carp etc... It is the unforeseen "accidents" that get you in the end. It is the height of hubris to say "it won't happen to me/in my situation". The point is you cannot guarantee it won't happen regardless of good intentions so put simply, don't! There is a road paved with good intentions, we all have the choice to walk that path or walk the harder path of being responsible. That is the ethical choice. Not angry, not jumping on you or anyone else. Just saying that kind of rationalization is what has gotten us in the deep shit our global environment is in right now and my thoughts are it has no place in permaculture.
 
James Colbert
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Max Kennedy wrote:The answer is still the same, bringing in an invasive is not ethical nor responsible, promoting it's growth even if already in your area is almost as bad. Running bamboo takes a bit longer to establish and is somewhat easier to eradicate but still isn't an ethical choice. Not saying it isn't done but where it can get out of control it isn't ethical. I am going to disagree with your statement "it can be grown responsibly". That's what was believed of cane toads, asian carp etc... It is the unforeseen "accidents" that get you in the end. It is the height of hubris to say "it won't happen to me/in my situation". The point is you cannot guarantee it won't happen regardless of good intentions so put simply, don't! There is a road paved with good intentions, we all have the choice to walk that path or walk the harder path of being responsible. That is the ethical choice. Not angry, not jumping on you or anyone else. Just saying that kind of rationalization is what has gotten us in the deep shit our global environment is in right now and my thoughts are it has no place in permaculture.



Fair enough, no kudzu, no running bamboo, no black locust, really nothing that is not native. Anything otherwise its unethical... I personally think trying to eradicate the species is the height of hubris but that's just me. It seems to me though, that it is here, it is spreading, and thus we should use it. If the industry around kudzu were developed the problem of it escaping would be minimal, you could just hire a kudzu company to harvest the kudzu. They get free kudzu for use, you get it removed for free, win win. As it stands now there is so much fear surrounding the plant that it can't be used wisely as it has been used for 1000 of years in japan and china.

The way is see it our fear of the plant is actually preventing its control.

"where it can get out of control it isn't ethical." Isn't that everywhere based on your hypothetical situations associated with kudzu?

much respect to your opinions, experience, and beliefs... I am enjoying the conversation and don't want there to be a hint of adversarial nature between us. I just see so many holes in the way we go about dealing with this apparently invasive plant. Invasion is only a problem when there are not enough environmental pressures to control it, goats, cows, sheep and humans should be that environmental pressure.

Lets forget about actively cultivating the plant for a second. What if we just started using it instead of poisoning it? Think mobile dairy and meat production, you move the animals to the kudzu. You could also collect the biomass for fuel, biochar, fiber, etc, etc. Now fast forward 10 years. Kudzu is now under control, its no longer spreading and a booming industry is setup around it. People are more aware of how the plant operates. When they see it they pull it out or if they have a lot the call in the kudzu guys. Small scale control can be done with organic fungal herbicides. At this point I see little problem with actively cultivating kudzu.

Do you still think that is unethical at this point? Wouldn't the above scenario put kudzu in a similar category as running bamboo? Perhaps not completely controllable but controllable within reason.

I'm not really trying to convince you (don't think I could), just keeping the conversation going
 
pollinator
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I think it is ethical to use invasive plants which are already in an area. I don't think it is ethical to deliberately introduce invasive plants to new areas, personally. Usually there are other options of native plants or non-invasive plants, so one is not actually forced to use an invasive plant, it is a choice.
 
Max Kennedy
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Given that something is in the area already, harvesting and using what is already there is ethical. However if it can be harvested to eradication then that is the ethical choice. Control is an illusion as has been proven time and again. Plants/microbes become resistant, animals adapt to use ranges heretofore thought beyond their ability, wild boar for example. Cultivation simply hastens that process. Acting to promote such an organism is unethical. Acting to use what is there and reduce the environmental burden is ethical. If it can be eradicated that is best.

James, ethical (roughly) = do no harm vs prudent = use what you have. In the arguments you're making the 2 seem to be confused a bit.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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I still believe that the plant will be there forever. Credible means of eradication or not. There is a danger of slipping into hubris and naivety when we decide to alter ecosystems (which can't be fully understood) I've seen this struggle first hand over and over again, you're just not going to get every last plant and it will continue to multiply exponentially and disperse in unexpected ways. If it was that easy to get rid of it wouldn't be an issue in the first place.

If it's already in your area then by all means harvest it and use it, but I still wouldn't do anything to promote its further establishment.

Lets say you've got a fragment of relatively intact ecosystem. Introduce the invasive and let it crowd out and outcompete the native species. Then bring in an artificial grazing or harvest regime to control the kudzu. Now what do you have? Even if you 'control' the kudzu, you have a highly highly modified ecosystem that's been knocked way out of equilibrium. Complex systems are highly sensitive to initial states...you might try to restore it to what was, but it's highly unlikely you'll even come close to the original species compositions or interactions. You will also lose all sorts of endemic local wildlife associations that have evolved with that habitat.

Enough of the planet is already highly modified for human use, we need to keep spaces free and open for native systems to thrive...for their own sake, or if you need to think about people then for our sake as resource banks of genetic diversity we can draw on, and as layers of resilience we can add to keep the ecosystem services we depend on running.

If you are talking about a bit of land that is already modifed for human use and full of agronomics then the focus is appropriately kept on encouraging sustainable productivity for human benefit....but even then there is broad suite of effective agronomic species that have already been in use in your area for generations and that have not proven to be a tremendous threat to surrounding wildlands. Those are the species to work with, if we are going to be responsible and not threaten your local wildland ecosystems.

 
Alex Ames
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Bill Mollison is not a big native plant advocate. His credo is that if t is "native to planet earth" use it. He also
installs according to Geoff Lawton a good bit of "rampancy" and huge diversity of plantings. So on the one hand
Kudzu might pass his screen like bamboo apparently does but on the other hand Kudzu will consume the other
plants and defeat the whole purpose of diversity. I wonder what his thoughts are on it? Surely he has said something
on the subject.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Rumor has it Bill Mollison recommends kudzu, but I can't find a quote. I disagree with Bill on a couple subjects, cats and kudzu. One can neuter a cat and keep it from infesting the locale, but one can not neuter a kudzu plant. Bill recommends preserving wildlands, so it would seem introducing kudzu into a region where it would infest wildlands would be counter to the preservation of wildlands, and also possibly in violation of ethic#1.
 
Alex Ames
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Well if you could design a solar powered perpetual lawnmower and put it over the top of it to cut it as it comes up
it would create quite a pile of biomass!
 
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Just going to chime in here. Imagine you're in VA, tens of thousands acres in our National Forests have seen tree die off due to invasive infestations and acid rains. With so much disrupted soil, Kudzu would rocket up the succession ladder and is. One seed from a bird into those areas and its all over for that forest, you'd need tens of thousands of goats and millions of dollars just to try and fight off such an invasion. SO.... why are we toying with nuclear weapons when the native and non-invasive world is so bountiful?! I understand the arguments for it but if you don't already have it on your land, avoid your waxed wing flight. On the up side, the goat herders are pretty ingenious. They're hiring out goats with mobile solar electric fenced kudzu control setups.
 
steward
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Planting kudzu is like ringing a bell. Once you have rung it, you cannot unring it. It's a One-Way street.

 
James Colbert
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So no black locust trees either right? Perhaps the best way to "cultivate" kudzu ethically is to simply buy a piece of property that it has invaded. It just seems like a huge resource that's being wasted. 40 acres of kudzu infested land could produce a lot of outputs and would probably be pretty cheap.
 
Tyler Ludens
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James Colbert wrote:So no black locust trees either right?



I would not personally plant them on my land.

I think if one wants to use kudzu, buying an existing kudzu property is an excellent idea. I bet they are pretty cheap!

 
gardener
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Just to throw my two cents in here and really stir up the pot I have to say that I agree with the statement that everything's native if it came from Earth.

Why are we somehow separate and different from all the other creatures on this earth? Would that Kudzu be considered "native" if 1000 years ago it had somehow managed to make the trip across oceans without human intervention? I'm pretty sure that in that context most would say it was a natural happening, and that nature would deal with it as it always does - with time and constant change. the kudzu runs rampant smothering all around until it finds some thing or combination of things that it can't overcome, then those new things begin to out-compete the kudzu and spread due to the lack of other competition. We start to return to a balance until another better adapted species comes along and stresses the system. I'm sure that kudzu isn't the first plant to out-compete the plants in a system that it's newly introduced to.

In our short-sighted, human-centered thinking, somehow we begin to think that we know the way things are supposed to be. Do you really think that nature will allow a mono-crop of kudzu to reign for the long term? Doesn't it seem more likely that nature will restore the balance like it's proven it can do over and over again, just that it might take longer than we would like?

I'm always slightly amused when people begin talking about "native" or "invasive" species or "endangered" species and our need to take care of them. How did the earth possibly manage to make it before we humans became smart enough to tally things and decide that no species should ever die out again, or that these plants belong here, but those ones don't. Things have been in flux for eons, yet somehow we think that the way they are right now is the way it's supposed to be from here on out (at least until we decide differently).
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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No one is saying that there hasn't been flux for eons, that life on earth is static, or that people know what the 'proper' order of things are. But we can clearly see that invasive species are creating an ecological crisis in many places on the planet.

It works like this: Geographic isolation drives species diversity. It is one of the principle mechanisms by which new species evolve and continue to exist. (allopatric and peripatric speciation). Over eons, highly complex biotic communities develop that integrate these new species. Yes, they change over time. Enironmental conditions change, geographical barriers are removed and created, extinctions happen and new species arrive. But we are talking about BIG TIME...geological time scales that people have a hard time getting their heads around.

Sure, humans are 'natural'...but we are different too, and that comes with special responsibilities. What other species has been able, in the course of two hundred years, to effectively cancel out thousands of millenia of geological and biological processes in the blink of an eye by moving individuals of a species across the globe in hours? On a planetary scale? All at once?

The tremendous richness of species and genetic diversity that is our shared heritage evolved and developed through geographic isolation, and the process was on a completely different time scale. 'Nature' doesn't work on jet-time. Kudzu is natural. Kudzu and thousands of other exotic plants on a different continent overnight is Not natural! Sure, 'Nature' can 'handle it'....the natural response is a greatly increased extinction rate, and then if we manage to knock ourselves out of the picture the diversity will slowly redevelop over hundreds of thousands, or millions of years. (not hundreds, not thousands). Treasures lost. Through invasive species and habitat destruction humanity has brought on the sixth mass extinction event in earth's history. Calling it 'natural' is just avoiding responsibility. Humans aren't giant asteroid impacts, we have free will and a choice.

(we have had such an impact we have created a new geologic epoch...there was talk of calling it the 'Homocene' because of the loss of species diversity, and the homogeneous weedy biotic communities we have created...but i think they have settled on calling it the Anthropocene.)

 
David Miller
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We must also at least pay credence to the fact that non-native species can out-compete natives so it doesn't matter what values we put on "invasives", if they kill off the local ecosystem then that's what they do. Its really a question of what you value more, the native balance, or your human needs. That being said I'd really like to experiment with Kudzu as a fodder crop but can't touch the stuff for the above reason. I know we all view this differently but to dismiss the needs of local ecosystems for the needs of man seems counter-permie. (basically what everyone else said)
 
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I see kudzu the same way I see bamboo and arundo donax, both of which are as invasive as kudzu. I have a hard time keeping both of these alive on my property here in Eastern Oklahoma. And kudzu is easier to kill than either of those two plants. Just cut the crown off the top of the root, bang, it's dead. Would I plant it in Houston? Not on your life!
 
pollinator
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I want to wake up this thread and discuss the benefits of a nice patch of kudzu. I also saw a phantom thread where someone asked if it made good rabbit fodder -- I'm sure it would, I have tried it with my guinea pigs and it seems to be one of their favorite foods. Lately I have taken to stopping at various sites that are overgrown with kudzu to cut a sackful for my pigs. I'm surprised how quickly they go through it!

While chopping kudzu, I can confirm that Augusta is indeed within the infestation area of the dreaded kudzu bug. I wonder what it would take to lure them into a bag trap. Leave one of those in a kudzu field and you could have a sackful of chicken feed in a matter of hours!

Anyone else have some kudzu news to share??
 
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Kudzu is the most invasive plant I have ever seen if you don't have it growing on your property do not plant it. I have fought 3 long years trying to get rid of the mess of kudzu I inherited. The property I moved onto had never been lived on it was covered in weeds. I didn't know what it was at the time so we dozed the property had everything leveled up and then it turned winter so thee were no signs of weeds. We proceed to have our double wide delivered and we move in. It turns spring and we plant grass thinking the weeds won't come back, boy were we wrong. Soon we realize were nog dealing with a normal weed and we start googling what this is. Kudzu is what we find out we have finally got one acre clear of it but nod it is moving further up the mountain. The tees are smothering and dying from this weed. I have had to get goats to keep it from over taking my house. Janes you day hire someone to rid it, apparently you don't know much about this plant. If you were my neighbor and planted this beside me, I would hold you responsible for damages. The person who brought this to America messed up and were paying for it now. WV is blanketed in this stuff now. I have aceres of it. I guess I will fight this battle maybe 30 yrs from now I might get rid of it. Do your research don't grow it
 
gardener
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There are very few plants I consider truly troublesome. Many 'invasive' plants aren't really causing much trouble or killing off native species so much as just populating in a place where someone doesn't want them to be. In Ohio, Siberian (bush) honeysuckle is one of those truly troublesome plants. It grows at a high pace, puts leaves on before other plants and drops them later than the rest. It has no animal that will eat it, so in a few years, chokes out everything else to the point that no new trees or any undercrops will grow at all. Darn hard to cut out.

Kudzu is the same way in the south, but a hundredfold worse depending on the growing conditions. Where it has been planted, it pretty much overtakes. I have seen no plant it wont grow over and eventually choke out. If I recall my research properly, it grows at one foot per DAY! Is it a good fodder crop? Yes. Is it a good food crop? Yes. Is it a wise thing to plant if it isn't already there? I can't believe so. Goats seem to be the strongest defense against it above ground with pigs being very good at rooting out what is under the ground after the goats finish above. It is indeed a great plant to have... but only if you already have it. In fact, if you do have it, look up the Kudzu Cookbook sometime. That said, having seen how it grows and the absolute lack of any other living thing below it's strangling vines, I would never consider it for planting in a location where it even had a small chance of being more than an annual.

That is me. Obviously some people feel differently. I can only speak from experience and what I have seen the plant do to once beautiful forests and hillsides is not worth the benefits it offers.
 
John Elliott
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D. Logan wrote:
Kudzu is the same way in the south, but a hundredfold worse depending on the growing conditions. Where it has been planted, it pretty much overtakes. I have seen no plant it wont grow over and eventually choke out.

I can only speak from experience and what I have seen the plant do to once beautiful forests and hillsides is not worth the benefits it offers.



When I see kudzu, what I'm looking at is neglect. Pieces of dirt that nobody maintains or cares about. Abandoned farmhouses or fields. Vacant lots. Yes, in those areas it can grow a foot a day, strangle all the other plants, and become a monoculture. Where there are grazing animals, lawns being mowed, fields being plowed and planted, there isn't any kudzu.

Sure, once it has been established it may take more than a couple of seasons of cutting/grazing/tilling/mowing to eradicate it. But along the lines of the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" I would say "when life gives you kudzu, get some goats and plan on a cabrito barbecue.

 
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Hi Paula,

Kudzu is surprisingly hard to get started believe it or not. I have successfully cloned it/taken cuttings and experimented with it in pots. I attempted to move it outside and it died off. I used a rooting hormone to get the roots going but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt it is voracious. There is a roadside area about 2 miles or so from my house where I can get all the cuttings I want from it. Up the road a few more miles there is literally a forest of Kudzu. It has literally dripped off of the trees and covered everything in its path.

I have used it for my rabbits for feed. They love it more than anything else I have given to them. Where we live the vines die back at the first sign of frost but I would imagine without that it would be much worse. I have watched the steady progression of patches around where we live. About 4 miles the other way I would guess it has moved up the road about 50 feet or better this year. The thing about it that is bad is that it will get entwined with everything in its path. It will wrap around thorns and brambles and cut the hell out of you if you are trying to get at it. Essentially it puts a root crown down about every foot or so in about 5 directions. That root crown does the same thing so you end up with a mass of roots and vines everywhere that is practically impossible to untangle. If you were able to chop it there are benefits but it is certainly playing with fire so to speak.

My thoughts on kudzu change every now and then. I still like to give it to my rabbits for a treat and it is super good for them. I am not so certain I would want it in my woods since it would cover and destroy them eventually and the really bad part is it wraps around everything in its path. Imagine if it was wrapped around a blackberry bramble, roses etc and the idea of trying to get in there to get it out. The other weeds don't die inside the kudzu, rather they sit in there waiting for a hand etc.

All in all I am glad it is down the road and not on my property. You could certainly grow it in a container but the roots and vines are very geared for putting out crowns and would be out of control in short order.
 
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Kudzu bug (Megacopta spp, beetle.) eats Kudza, and soybeans!. Distribution map: http://www.kudzubug.org/distribution_map.cfm
White Muscadine disease eats Kudzu bug: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauveria_bassiana
Also used against bedbugs, available commercially.
 
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Kirk Hutchison wrote:I don't think kudzu is capable of invading mature ecosystems. Whenever I go to the south I see it along the edges of roads or in pine forests that look like they were logged within the last 20 years or so. When I walk deeper into the forest, no kudzu.



This is true of all invasive species I've looked into. They are not actually invading anywhere that people haven't already "invaded." In fact, we are the invasive species. The plants just thank us and come along for the ride.
 
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