Spotting the Vine that Ate the South in Ohio

Imagine a weed that grows a foot per day and has the power to swallow a whole house, spread through fields and even reach the tips of power lines.

The weed is called kudzu and in recent years, it has crept into Ohio. It has the potential to kill entire forests by depriving trees of sunlight and weighing down their branches.

During the Great Depression, farmers in the South were paid $8 ($256 today) per acre to grow kudzu for soil conservation. It was called the “miracle vine,” but soon became known as “the vine that ate the south.”

  Map of the distribution of kudzu in the U.S. in 2011.       
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, kudzu covers about eight million acres of land in the U.S. The weed has spread to 15 counties in Ohio, mostly in the southeast, but has been found as far north as Summit and Cuyahoga counties, AgFax said.

Kudzu costs the United States $500 million per year in damage to forests, according to Eat the Weeds. It also lures the kudzu bug, a damaging species that feeds on kudzu and any crops the weed grows around.

A program, run by the Ohio State University Extension, is targeting kudzu and trying to make Ohioans aware of the problem.

“Kudzu is in scattered spots in Ohio,” said Kathy Smith, director of the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program. “We’re hoping to raise awareness of kudzu specifically and of invasive species in general.”

The program recently released a poster and smartphone app to help control the weed. Ohioans can use the poster to recognize the weed and then report it with the program’s free Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) app.

For a free copy of the poster, contact the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program at The app can be downloaded here.

Have you spotted kudzu on your farm?

No comments: