There's so much fast-growing kudzu vine in the Southeastern U.S., one would think it a native plant.
Kudzu, growing up and down and all around the power post was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Countries were invited to build exhibits to celebrate the 100th birthday of the U.S. The Japanese government constructed a beautiful garden filled with plants from their country. The large leaves and sweet-smelling blooms of kudzu captured the imagination of American gardeners who used the plant for ornamental purposes. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Soil Conservation Service promoted kudzu for erosion control. Hundreds of young men were given work planting kudzu through the Civilian Conservation Corps. Farmers were paid as much as eight dollars an acre as incentive to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. I remember , as a child seeing one of our neighbors house had a small vine of kudza vine growing on strings to ptovide shade for on their open porch. Channing Cope was Kudzu's most vocal advocate. Cope of Covington, Georgia promoted use of the vine to control erosion. Cope wrote about kudzu in articles for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and talked about its virtues frequently on his daily WSB-AM radio program broadcast from his front porch. During the 1940s, he traveled across the southeast starting Kudzu Clubs to honor what he called "the miracle vine." Cope was very disappointed when the U.S. government stopped advocating the use of kudzu in 1953.
The problem for years now is that it just grows too well! The climate of the Southeastern U.S. is perfect for kudzu. The vines grow as much as a foot per day during summer months, climbing trees, power poles, and anything else they contact. Under ideal conditions kudzu vines can grow sixty feet each year. While they help prevent erosion, the vines can also destroy valuable forests by preventing trees from getting sunlight. Researchers at Tuskegee University, has successfully raised Angora goats in fields of kudzu which would otherwise be considered wasted land. The Angora goats serve as a "weevil" to keep the kudzu from spreading further also while producing profitable milk and wool products. Rhoden says constant grazing of the goats there will eventually eradicate kudzu
Uses for Kudzu: Basket makers have found that the rubber-like vines are excellent for decorative and functional creations. Ruth Duncan of Greenville, Alabama makes over 200 kudzu baskets each year and says she doesn't mind that people call her the "Queen of Kudzu." Regina Hines of Ball Ground, Georgia, has developed unique basket styles which incorporate curled kudzu vines. She weaves with other vines as well, but says that kudzu is the most versatile.
Common names for kudzu include,"mile -a-minute vine", foot -a-night vine"
and the "vine that ate the south,"Southerners just close their windows at night to keep the kudzu out.