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- Cultivation: Invastive, Naturalizing, Low-Maintenance, Easy-To-Grow
- Light: Sun
- Soil: Rich
- pH: 7
- Moisture: Wet, Medium, Well-Drained
- Form: Vine, Groundcover
- Habit: Evergreen, Perennial
- Flower: Small
- Fruit/Seed: Small
- Foliage: Leaves
- Uses: Medicinal, Ornamental, Industrial
Kudzu Pueraria lobata, and possibly other species in the genus Pueraria; see taxonomy section below) is a plant in the genus Pueraria in the Pea family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. It is a climbing, coiling, and trailing Vine native to southern Japan and southEast China. Its name comes from the Japanese name for the plant, .
Kudzu is sometimes called gé gēn (), and has earned such Nicknames as the "foot-a-night vine", "mile-a-minute vine", and "the vine that ate the South" (of the United States) due to its out-of-control growth in the Southeastern United States. In Vietnam, it is called sắn dây.<ref>Kudzu in Vietnamese (Translator)</ref>
Kudzu spreads by vegetative expansion, via Stolons (runners) that Root at the nodes to form new plants and by Rhizomes. Kudzu will also spread by Seeds, which are contained in pods and mature in the autumn, although this is rare. One or two viable seeds are produced per cluster of pods. The hard-coated seeds may not Germinate for several years, which can result in the reappearance of the species years after it was thought eradicated at a site.
Soil improvement and preservation
Kudzu has been used as a form of Erosion control and also to enhance the Soil. As a Legume, it increases the Nitrogen in the soil via a Symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing Bacteria. Its deep Taproots also transfer valuable Minerals from the Subsoil to the Topsoil, thereby improving the topsoil. In the deforested section of the central Amazon Basin in Brazil, it has been used for improving the soil pore-space in Clay latosols, and thus freeing even more Water for plants than in the soil prior to Deforestation.
Kudzu can be used by grazing animals as it is high in quality as a forage and palatable to Livestock. It can be grazed until Frost and even slightly after. Kudzu had been used in the southern United States specifically to feed goats on land that had limited resources. Kudzu Hay typically has a 15–18% crude protein content and over 60% total digestible nutrient value. The quality of it decreases, however, as Vine content increases relative to the Leaf content. Kudzu also has low forage yields despite its great deal of growth, yielding around two to four tons of dry matter per Acre annually. It is also difficult to bale due to its vining growth and its slowness in shedding Water. This makes it necessary to place kudzu hay under sheltered protection after being baled. Kudzu is readily consumed by all types of grazing animals, yet frequent grazing over 3 to 4 years can ruin stands. Thus kudzu only serves well as a grazing crop on a temporary basis.
Kudzu also contains a number of useful isoflavones, including Daidzein (an Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial agent). Daidzin is a Cancer preventive and is structurally related to Genistein (an antileukemic agent). Kudzu is a unique source of the Isoflavone Puerarin. Kudzu root compounds can affect Neurotransmitters (including Serotonin, GABA, and Glutamate.) It has shown value in treating Migraine and Cluster headaches. It is recommended for allergies and diarrhea.
Research in mice models suggests that kudzu is beneficial in women for control of some postmenopausal symptoms, such as hypertension and diabetes type II.
In Traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), where it is known as gé gēn (), kudzu is considered one of the 50 fundamental herbs. It is used to treat Tinnitus, Vertigo, and Wei syndrome (superficial heat close to the surface).
Kudzu has traditionally been used as a remedy for alcoholism and hangover in China. The root was used to prevent excessive consumption, while the flower was supposed to detoxify the liver and alleviate the symptoms afterwards. Some TCM hangover remedies are marketed with kudzu as one of their active ingredients (e.g. Hangover Busters.) This has also been a common use in areas of the Southeastern United States.
It has also shown promise for treating Alzheimers' disease.
It may help diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The roots contain Starch, which has traditionally been used as a food ingredient in East Asia.
In Japan, the plant is known as kuzu and the starch named Kuzuko. Kuzuko is used as in dishes including Kuzumochi, mizu Manjū, and Kuzuyu.
In Vietnam, the starch called bột sắn dây is flavoured with Pomelo oil and then used as a drink in the summer.
In the Southern United States, kudzu is used to make Soaps, Lotions, jelly, and Compost. In Japan, kudzu powder is used to make a sort of herbal tea called Kuzuyu. It has even been suggested that kudzu may become a valuable asset for the production of Cellulosic ethanol.
The fiber is used traditionally and has also been investigated for potential uses such as clothing, wallpaper, and paper.
It has been used for centuries in East Asia to make tea, health tonics, and fibers for kimonos. <ref>Smithsonian MagazineKudzu: Love It or Run</ref>
For successful long-term control of kudzu, it is not necessary to destroy the entire root system, which can be quite large and deep. It is only necessary to use some method to kill or remove the kudzu root crown<ref name="kokudzu">"Kudzu Control Without Chemicals". kokudzu.com. 2007. http://kokudzu.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007. </ref> and all rooting runners. The root crown is a fibrous knob of tissue that sits on top of the root (rhizome). Crowns form from vine nodes that root to the ground, and range from pea-size to basketball-size.<ref name="kokudzu" /> The older the crown, the deeper they tend to be found in the ground, because they are covered by sediment and plant debris over time. Nodes and crowns are the source of all kudzu vines, and roots cannot produce vines. If any portion of a root crown remains after attempted removal, the kudzu plant may grow back.
Mechanical methods of control involve cutting off crowns from roots, usually just below ground level. This immediately kills the plant. Cutting off vines is not sufficient for an immediate kill. It is necessary to destroy all removed crown material. Buried crowns can regenerate into healthy kudzu. Transporting crowns in soil removed from a kudzu infestation is one common way that kudzu "miraculously" spreads and shows up in unexpected locations.
Close mowing every week, regular heavy Grazing for many successive years, or repeated cultivation may be effective, as this serves to deplete root reserves. If done in the spring, cutting off vines must be repeated as regrowth appears to exhaust the plant's stored Carbohydrate reserves. Cut kudzu can be fed to livestock, burned, or composted; strides have been made in using it for vehicle fuel as Ethanol.
The city of Chattanooga, Tennessee has undertaken a trial program using Goats and Llamas that graze on the plant. the goats are grazing along the Missionary Ridge area in the east of the city. Similar efforts to reduce widespread nuisance kudzu growth have also been undertaken in the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Prescribed burning is also used on old extensive infestations to remove vegetative cover and promote seed germination for removal or treatment. It is usually done to prepare for treatment of the root crowns. Landscape equipment, such as a Skid loader ("Bobcat"), can also remove biomass. While fire is not an effective way to kill kudzu, equipment, such as skid loaders, can remove crowns and thereby kill kudzu with minimal disturbance of soil.<ref name="kokudzu" />
- This article was based in part on content from Public domain web pages from the United States National Park Service and the United States Bureau of Land Management
|Search Wikimedia Commons||Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Kudzu|
- Species Profile - Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Kudzu.