Kudzu: “As Close to a ‘Polluting Plant’ As One Can Find”

Far Eastern vines
Run from the clay banks they are
Supposed to keep from eroding.
Up telephone poles,
Which rear, half out of leafage
As though they would shriek,
Like things smothered by their own
Green, mindless, unkillable ghosts.
In Georgia, the legend says
That you must close your windows
At night to keep it out of the house.
–from Kudzu by James Dickey

I grew up in rural Georgia, so I saw first hand how kudzu climbs up telephone poles, invades and conquers fields and strangles giant oaks. When I was in graduate school, ecology graduate students on the first floor of our building were searching madly for something, some bug, that would eat kudzu, in hopes that they might some day graduate.

So it was with great interest that I read the recently published paper by Hickman and colleagues describing in greater detail just how noxious a noxious weed Pueraria montana (kudzu) is.

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