Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday's Word: Kudzu

Kudzu-covered house and trees
The first time I heard about kudzu, "the weed that ate the South," I was--what?--horrified... grossed out... frightened, even. I mean, it looks downright spooky when it covers entire landscapes including houses and trees.

I have met my kudzu.

Out behind our garage is our sunniest garden spot. Currently, it's planted with catmint, a few coneflowers, and liatris. Only you wouldn't know about the liatris, because it's been smothered by a nasty little vine that has wound around the stalks and heads of the liatris, binding them together before forcing them down with its weight. 

Liatris covered in vines
I recognize this vine. It was a tiny thing, just barely making an appearance over the last few years. I didn't bother pulling it because it seemed harmless. Now it has not only taken over a big swath of garden, it has gone to seed! This hummer will be sprouting up everywhere, including all up and down the alley, where most of the neighbors also have plantings. How could this happen, I asked myself. The answer is simple. I've been enjoying the garden outside my office window, and tending to its needs. Haven't been behind the garage for weeks. Barely even glance in that direction when I'm driving in or out of the garage.

We often paraphrase the quote, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."* Also, apparently, the price of freedom from kudzu.

Healthy liatris
*This quote is variously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and abolitionist Wendell Phillips; it apparently originated in a speech by John P. Curran in Dublin in 1790.


Midlife Roadtripper said...

Kudzu grows to appear like a blanket over a sleepy world. Just becoming familiar with it as I venture toward the south with my son's choice of college. I don't think it will be long before it takes over our area also.

Eternal vigilance. Yes, like we do that well.

Teresa Evangeline said...

This dang vine has been running rampant in my garden as well, and my sister reports the same. She has referred to this as The Summer of the Twisty Vine. I'm trying to stay ahead of it, but it isn't easy. Good quote.

Marsha said...

I have more and more in my gardens each year too, it is hard to control. Some call it field bindweed and some call it wild buckwheat but whatever it is, I've read each plant can create up to 1,200 seeds so it's virtually impossible to stay ahead of it. The years I use Preen it doesn't seem as bad, so pull as much as you can and then use a product to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Good Luck :)

Jeanie said...

It sounds like something even I could grow, that and the mint that tries to take over our garden. I do remember being amazed seeing Kudzu covering whole hillsides in the south.

DJan said...

I was visiting somewhere in Florida years ago and saw it (kudzu) on the side of the road. It is an amazingly virulent plant. I think it was introduced by accident years ago, am I right? (Wikipedia, here I come!)

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

"The twisty vine" is a great description of this thing, and so is bindweed, because it just twists right around anything in its path.

Kudzu was introduced from Japan for use as a fast-growing groundcover. They hoped it would stabilize places where the ground was loose, and some thought it was attractive so they put it into landscapes. But it loves the climate so much that it quickly got out of control.

Daughter Number Three said...

Yep, field bindweed. It's related to morning glories, which are themselves weeds, of course. And the seeds are hallucinogens, so if you want to imagine your garden without the bindweed, that might be one option. ; - )

gayle said...

We have it a lot in my area!

grammy said...

someone else was blogging about that
I have wood vine that is a pain and mint...
but that stuff is crazy
I always say that zucchini could feed the world
what about Kudzu???

Anonymous said...

Kudzu. I must google that now. Your photo has me so intrigued!

Jenny said...

I always thought kudzu sounded kind of neat until I actually saw it engulfing everything like a creeping green blanket!

Deb Shucka said...

YIkes. This isn't something we have to deal with in the Pacific Northwest. Our version of kudzu is Himalayan blackberries. And at least those give you fruit.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Ah weeds. The object of my OCD. Great word, btw. I know kudzu well.
My nemesis? Trumpet vine.


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