Anyone who catches a glimpse of roadside areas in the South knows of the horrible scourge of Kudzu. The fast-growing perennial vine introduced to the United States from Japan in the late 1800’s was welcomed in Victorian gardens as a fragrant ornamental, and by farmers as potential source of forage.
In the 1930’s it was widely planted because it was believed to help control erosion. Instead of simply controlling the erosion, however, the voracious vine began to grow completely out of control. It thrived in the southeast because conditions during the summer were near perfect for rapid growth. Kudzu grew in almost all soil types, and the amount of rainfall was ideal. In fact, Kudzu grew so much that it was declared a weed in 1972 by the USDA.
Restoration Systems has struggled with Kudzu working its way onto a couple mitigation sites from the roadside right-of-way. RS is required to monitor each site and control any invasive or non-native plants. The cost of hiring a contractor to do the job exceeded the cost of buying a spray rig and doing the job ourselves. Fortunately, a valued veteran member of the RS team, Dave Schiller, has experience fighting the green beast that is Kudzu and was licensed in the past as a pesticide applicator. In order to take on the latest challenge, Dave renewed his license with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and for the past two summers has been making life difficult for the voracious vine on behalf of RS. Dave uses Transline, which is selective to the legume family of plants (kudzu), so everything can be sprayed without damaging other vegetation or – most importantly—out thousands upon thousands of planted conservation trees. In addition, a small amount of Transline is used (about 23 ounces per acre) so there is no herbicide build-up. RS has this method on a number of sites and has seen tremendous results.
Kudzu was coined “The vine that ate the South” because it grows everywhere. It can be found in forests, open fields, roadsides, railroads, and power lines—but not Restoration Systems sites. Kudzu has no natural enemy (except us) so it is almost impossible to control, growing at a rate of one foot a day, and up sixty feet a year. So, thanks to Dave Schiller for helping control a horrible pest and threat to the integrity of our restored ecosystems.