TAYLOR COUNTY—Several Taylor county residents have noticed large amounts of Kudzu this summer. Folks traveling down Maple Avenue, toward the Tygart Dam, most certainly have noticed the vast amounts growing there.
Kudzu, sometimes called “the vine that ate the south” was initially introduced to the United States from Asia in the late 19th century.
Under the right growing conditions, the vine grows rapidly, sometimes a foot a day, and covers almost everything in its path.
The fast-growing vine covers plants and trees under a thick layer of foliage, preventing them from getting the sunlight they need to survive.
It frequently grows, unchecked, along woodland edges near homes, in vacant lots, and along property lines.
And it doesn’t just attack wild plant communities, it has also been known to wreak havoc on farmlands, killing entire crops.
Kudzu is also the host plant for the kudzu bug, which has not yet been sighted in West Virginia but has been documented in Virginia and Maryland.
So how can you get rid of kudzu?
According to the USDA Forest Service,“ Kudzu patches can be eradicated with persistent treatments or they can be contained and managed with other treatment options. Herbicides, grazing, prescribed buming and disk harrowing can be used as eradication or containment treatments. For eradication, every kudzu plant in and around a patch must be killed or the spread from any surviving plants can make all prior efforts and investments useless. This means that all landowners sharing a patch must arrange to treat the whole patch simultaneously.”
The news on kudzu isn’t all bad though.
For years people have used kudzu medicinally for several different ailments such as high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, sinus infections, alcoholism, colds and hay fever just to name a few.
Health providers in China sometimes give Puerarin, a chemical in kudzu, intravenously to treat stroke due to a blood clot, as well as for back pain, heart attacks, and to reduce cholesterol levels in people with heart disease.
So, while there is good to the vine, it is not recommended to use it outside of the care of a trained professional.
If you have questions about kudzu, please contact the West Virginia University Extension Office at 304-265-3303 or the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 1-800-295-8228.