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7/20/17- KUDZU

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

While we’re on the topic of invasive species, it’s time to talk about everybody’s worse nightmare: KUDZU. This invasive has spread all over this state and many more. It is almost impossible to eradicate and forms very dense infestations on any and every substrate it finds!

Pueraria montana, or Kudzu is an invasive vine that winds and twines up to 100 feet long! The vines are thick and woody, clinging on to trees and other vegetation and forming dense blankets. The plant contains large root balls that lie up to 16 feet below the soil surface. The leaves of the vine are very large with 3 separate leaflets. Each single leaflet is about 5 inches long and 6 inches wide. The vine begins to flower in June and the flowers die off in September. The flower itself is a purple color with a yellow center. Most people claim the flowers are very fragrant and smell somewhat like grapes or wine. Because Kudzu is part of the Fabaceae family, it produces large bean pods from September to January. The pods become ripe and fall off onto the ground or split in half, releasing seeds. These seeds are then wind and water dispersed. Animals also contribute to the planting of new seeds. The vine then begins to germinate from the newly planted seed, which is very hardy and seed viability depends on the habitat. In the spring, Kudzu can grow up to a foot per day! In one year, the vine can put on an extra 60 feet of growth! This astonishingly prolific vine occurs in all the stereotypical paces like right-of-ways, old home sites, and forest margins. It “blankets” trees, shrubs, small hills, old cars, etc.… The vine does not discriminate against the substrate it attaches to. It begins to twine around smaller parts of the object and then covers larger parts as it matures. The only pro to Kudzu is the fact that it is a nitrogen-fixer. So how did this highly invasive vine reach the United States? From Japan and China, of course! It came over to the states in the 1900s and was used for agricultural endeavors like feed for livestock and erosion control. It was also used in folk art. If we knew then, what we know now, Kudzu would not look like a green blanket across Alabama!

If Kudzu is suffocating your land, turn to the old trusty glyphosate. The herbicide has proven effective so far. The root ball also must be destroyed to prohibit reestablishment. In the meantime, the USDA is researching other ways to eradicate the invasive vine and rid the state of the green leaves that are blanketing this state and many others.

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as a member of the TrueSouth team contributing wildlife blog articles!

My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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