truffler1635 at my-deja.com truffler1635 at my-deja.com
Sat Aug 5 10:07:12 EST 2000

The following is from The Oregonian, August 4, 2000, p A1

Kudzu, which has blanketed the South, is discovered in Clackamas County


	Kudzu, a viney, sprawling weed that smothers everything in its path,
has been discovered in Clackamas County.
	State agriculture officials are concerned about its presence -
although still thought to be less than a quarter acre - because kudzu
spreads quickly, takes years to get rid of and eventually kills other
plants and trees by smothering them under a homogenous blanket of green,
keeping them from sunlight.
	Its deep roots, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, also hog water
and nutrients from other plants, according to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture. And its hairy, twining vines can bend, break or uproot trees
and bring down telephone and power lines with their weight.
	"Kudzu is so invasive, it displaces all native plants. It can be
totally destructive and wipe out a whole ecosystem," said Tim Butler, who
manages the noxious weed program for the state Department of Agriculture.
"It is something to be extremely concerned about."
	This perennial invader not only has become an agricultural fixture
in the South, where it has covered countless acres of fields and trees,
abandoned buildings, and junked cars, but it has also been embraced by
the culture of that region.
	Its leaves and vines are used in food, potpouorri, soap, jelly,
jewelry and candles. It is the theme of festivals, is included in the
name of various businesses and is claimed to cure everything from
migraine headaches to high blood pressure.
	"it is a spectacularly nutritious plant," said Phil Haney with the
Georgia Department of Agriculture, whose personal recipe file includes
kudzu sauteed with sesame seeds and kudzu quiche.
	Haney, however, recommends eradicating kudzu in the Northwest: "Do
your best to get it out of there, if you can."
	A state weed team trained to spot noxious weeds from the air will do
an aerial survey today in cooperation with the Bonneville Power
Administration, which is concerned about the power line threat. State
agricultural officials are also working closely with kudzu experts from
the Southeast to devise effective control strategies.
	"We want to deal with it early on," Butler said, "before it becomes
biologically and economically difficult."
	Oregon agriculture officials first spotted the invader last Friday
while surveying for a parasite of clover in Clackamas County. The weed
control officials sent samples to the herbarium at Oregon State
University, which confirmed that the specimen was indeed Pueraria montana
var. lobata, commonly known as kudzu. Where it came from is a mystery,
Butler said. He estimates that the plot is no more than 2 years old.
	Kudzu does not tend to reproduce by seeds very well, although they
can lay dormant for years before germinating. Instead, the plant spreads
rapidly through its vines, which trail along the ground, and can produce
roots every few feet. Kudzu has spread at the rate of 125,000 to 150,000
acres a year in the Southeastern states, according to Charles Bryson, a
research botanist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Mississippi.
	The vine grows aggressively - from a few inches to up to a foot a
day - even in poor soil, and can tolerate a range of soil acidity levels.
The plant's large, starchy tubers, like potatoes, sustain the plan even
after it's cut down. The roots, which help the weed to survive drought
and protect the plant from light frost, can reach a depth of 12 feet and
weigh 200 to 300 pounds, according to John W. Everest, extension weed
scientist for Auburn University in Alabama.
	Comparatively, the roots of corn, which is an annual, generally grow
to a depth of a little more than four feet. The roots of alfalfa, which
is a perennial, grow to about 18 feet.
	^"Once kudzu gets established and has a large underground storage
system, it has tremendous potential to survie," Everest said. "Western
Oregon sounds like an ideal environment for kudzu."
	Kudzu, which is native to China, first set its roots on American
soil in 1876 as part of the Japanese Pavilion at the Philadelphia
Centennial Exposiion. Americans were enchanted with its lush foliage and
long, sweet-smelling purple flower clusters. People started planting
kudzu next to porches, where it could be trained onto trellises to
provide shade. And by the turn of the century, kudzu was available
through catalogs.
	"Considering what kudzu has done in the Southeast, frankly it's the
last thing we need here," said Jonathan Soll, a Portland manager of the
Nature Conservancy, a national environmental advocacy organization.
	"This weed would definitely make all the others look tame."

Comment by poster: worse than almost any other catastrophe that might
befall forests, the introduction of kudzu vine to the Pacific Northwest
points out the potential devastation of introduced noxious weeds. OTOH,
perhaps in some places harvesting kudzu for biomass powerplant production
should be looked into, along with water hyacinth and other fast-growing

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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