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So far, scientific support for the benefits of kudzu is limited. Flowers can … Certain parts of the kudzu plant are edible to humans, and some would argue even tasty. Those roadside plantings—isolated from grazing, impractical to manage, their shoots shimmying up the trunks of second-growth trees—looked like monsters. In the latest careful sampling, the U.S. Forest Service reports that kudzu occupies, to some degree, about 227,000 acres of forestland, an area about the size of a small county and about one-sixth the size of Atlanta. This could become our revenge. Anti-Inflammatory & Antioxidant. They don't call it the vine that ate the South for nothing. Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Though William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and others in that first great generation of Southern writers largely ignored kudzu, its metaphorical attraction became irresistible by the early 1960s. By the early 1940s, Cope had started the Kudzu Club of America, with a membership of 20,000 and a goal of planting eight million acres across the South. That’s about one-tenth of 1 percent of the South’s 200 million acres of forest. And because it looked as if it covered everything in sight, few people realized that the vine often fizzled out just behind that roadside screen of green. They use their piercing mouthparts to suck juices from the plant. It appeared not to stop because there were no grazers to eat it back. Introduced from Asia in the late 19th century as a garden novelty, but not widely planted until the 1930s, kudzu is now America’s most infamous weed. However, these insects were not imported to the U.S. along with the vines. As a young naturalist growing up in the Deep South, I feared kudzu. Bill Finch is the lead horticulture and science advisor to the Mobile Botanical Gardens in Alabama. And we've heard the blossoms aren't bad in jelly, candy or syrups. The leaves can be used like spinach and eaten raw, chopped up and baked in quiches, cooked like collards, or deep fried. Megacopta cribraria, also called the bean plataspid, kudzu bug, globular stink bug and lablab bug, is a shield bug native to India and China, where it is an agricultural pest of lablab beans and other legumes. Terms of Use It is high in nitrogen and actually replaces nitrogen in the soil. They are not edible. Continue Though “not terribly worried” about the threat of kudzu, Loewenstein calls it “a good poster child” for the impact of invasive species precisely because it has been so visible to so many. Young kudzu shoots are tender and taste similar to snow peas. Look for a kudzu plant that is not near a highway where it will be contaminated by dust and automobile exhaust fumes. Kudzu is an invasive plant species in the United States.Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences. Also do not eat the pods or seeds. This has earned it the nickname "the vine that ate the South". Learn how to identify kudzu and other invasive plants. Kudzu is a green, blossoming vine native to Japan and China. More important, it obscures the beauty of the South’s original landscape, reducing its rich diversity to a simplistic metaphor. The leaves of the kudzu plant can be prepared and eaten just as you would with spinach. You can eat it too. Kudzu: A Southern Musical toured the country. The widely cited nine-million-acre number appears to have been plucked from a small garden club publication, not exactly the kind of source you expect a federal agency or academic journal to rely on. Yet the popular myth won a modicum of scientific respectability. The blossom can be used to make pickles or a jelly — a taste between apple and peach — and the root is full of edible starch. Vote Now! If you live in the southern United States, you know kudzu. Kudzu may also be mistaken for riverbank grape (Vitis riparia), a native species that is able to climb trees but has shredded bark and coarsely toothed leaves with no leaflets. Fresh or cooked. “I thought the whole world would someday be covered by it, that it would grow as fast as Jack’s beanstalk, and that every person on earth would have to live forever knee-deep in its leaves,” Morris wrote in Good Old Boy: A Delta Boyhood. It was an invasive that grew best in the landscape modern Southerners were most familiar with—the roadsides framed in their car windows. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. Now there’s a cottage industry of kudzu-branded literary reviews and literary festivals, memoirs, cartoon strips and events. Kudzu's root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine. What do kudzu bugs eat? Our obsession with the vine hides the South. The myth of kudzu has indeed swallowed the South, but the actual vine’s grip is far more tenuous. Kudzu took root so well in the Southeastern U.S. that the U.S. Department of Agriculture now considers it a weed. What do they eat? In addition, it can grow really, really fast. The leaves, vine tips and shoots, flowers and roots can be safely consumed by humans. From 1935-1953, the federal government encouraged farmers to grow Kudzu to prevent soil erosion. Older leaves can be fried like potato chips, or used to wrap food for storage or cooking. But, in fact, it rarely penetrates deeply into a forest; it climbs well only in sunny areas on the forest edge and suffers in shade. But kudzu spread quickly and overtook farms and buildings, leading some to call to kudzu "the vine that ate the South.” Kudzu's root, flower, and leaf are used to make medicine. by Grandpa Cliff Nov 10, 2005 (revised Jan 3, 2006) []Kudzu flowers (Pueraria montana) KUDZU (CUD-zoo) is a drought-resistant perennial plant that was brought to the U.S. from Asia in 1876 to be used as an ornamental plant and grown in fields for grazing cattle to eat. 1. Kudzu has traditionally served as … In 2009, what’s been dubbed the kudzu bug was identified in the South, a brand new invader from Asia. Weird & Wacky, Copyright © 2020 HowStuffWorks, a division of InfoSpace Holdings, LLC, a System1 Company. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Privacy Statement A writer for Deep South Magazine recently gushed that kudzu is “the ultimate icon for the South...an amazing metaphor for just about every issue you can imagine within Southern Studies.” One blogger, surveying the kudzu-littered literature of the modern South, dryly commented that all you have to do to become a Southern novelist is “throw in a few references to sweet tea and kudzu.”. But for others, kudzu was a vine with a story to tell, symbolic of a strange hopelessness that had crept across the landscape, a lush and intemperate tangle the South would never escape. The kudzu plant produces fragrant blossoms which you can make into jelly, syrup and candy. Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Magazine A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that while vulnerable species are primarily in the Southeast, most lands protected as federal and state parks are in the West. Here's what the research says so far about kudzu health … Give them a quick wash with cold water and then transfer them to a bowl. The states of Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana are all facing this new threat. Water Is Free. Conservation biologists are taking a closer look at the natural riches of the Southeastern United States, and they describe it as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, in many ways on par with tropical forests. The University of Tennessee Knoxville landscaping services rented goats to come and eat away at kudzu on a one acre piece of land right next to the … Kudzu might have forever remained an obscure front porch ornament had it not been given a boost by one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in U.S. history. Kudzu definition at Dictionary.com, a free online dictionary with pronunciation, synonyms and translation. Though fascinated by the grape-scented flowers and the purple honey produced by visiting bees, I trembled at the monstrous green forms climbing telephone poles and trees on the edges of our roads and towns. In 1876, farmers brought kudzu to America to feed livestock and prevent soil erosion. He was, as cultural geographer Derek Alderman suggests, an evangelist. In the often-cited poem “Kudzu,” Georgia novelist James Dickey teases Southerners with their own tall tales, invoking an outrageous kudzu-smothered world where families close the windows at night to keep the invader out, where the writhing vines and their snakes are indistinguishable. Wilson, the American biologist and naturalist at Harvard, says the central Gulf Coast states “harbor the most diversity of any part of eastern North America, and probably any part of North America.” Yet when it comes to environmental and conservation funding, the South remains a poor stepchild. In the decades that followed kudzu’s formal introduction at the 1876 World’s Fair Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, farmers found little use for a vine that could take years to establish, was nearly impossible to harvest and couldn’t tolerate sustained grazing by horses or cattle. In places where it was once relatively easy to get a photograph of kudzu, the bug-infested vines are so crippled they can’t keep up with the other roadside weeds. The bare … Start Your Own Money Making Backyard Nursery! The leaves, vine tips, flowers, and roots are edible; the vines are not. By way of comparison, the same report estimates that Asian privet had invaded some 3.2 million acres—14 times kudzu’s territory. Swallowed the South '', what does kudzu eat crops such as soybeans, which results in them considered... Snakes that everyone said were breeding within 1876, farmers brought kudzu to prevent soil erosion however, insects! 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