Kudzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata)
Invasive plants are vegetation that normally does not grow in an area (non-native), and when introduced into a new area, begin to thrive, taking over where they have no predators or diseases to control their spread. They quickly reproduce and grow unchecked, crowding out plants that are native to the area.
An example of an invasive plant in Texas includes the kudzu vine, which kills or degrades other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves.
It was thought to have been brought into the state to help stabilize erosion along riverbanks or as a decorative garden plant. According to texasinvasives.org, without natural controls such as pests that feed on the plant, Kudzu crowds out plants that are native to Texas.
It is currently classified as a “noxious weed” and a 2005 Smithsonian article called kudzu America’s most “infamous weed.”
Kudzu is a twining, trailing, mat-forming, ropelike vine that can stretch 100 feet, according to texasinvasives.org. The plant grows best in well-drained, degraded or eroded land or in disturbed, sandy soils in full sun. It will, however, invade well-drained acid-soil forests. It also has purple flowers in late summer that release a strong fragrance.
Kudzu is capable of growing at an alarming rate of up to 1 foot a day, according to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there is no way to completely eradicate the plant as it grows so quickly and in places that are not easily accessed. Chemical treatments can work, but complete eradication is not realistic once it has become established.
Early detection and prevention are the best-known management methods for the aggressive plant, according to the Texas Invasive Species Institute.