Kudzu leaf

Kudzu (Pueraria montana)

Perennial, deciduous, semi-woody climbing vine; stems are yellow-green and are covered with golden and silver hairs. Can grow up to 1’ per day and 60’ per season and is also able to produce up to 30 vines from one root crown.

Overview

Regulated areas of kudzu
Kudzu is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Vine-that-ate-the-south, foot-a-night vine, Japanese arrowroot
  • Scientific names: P. lobata; P montana var. lobata; P. montana var. montana

Ecological threat:

  • Is commonly found infesting forest edges, abandoned fields, roadsides, and other disturbed areas.
  • Girdles and blankets trees and shrubs by climbing up them to the root crown, which increases the chances of the trees being pulled down due to the weight.

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for kudzu was based upon this literature reviewliterature review developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves: Alternate leaves are compound and are comprised of 3 broad, pointed slightly lobed leaflets with golden hairs.

Flowers: Fragrant purple flowers with a yellow middle occur in leaf axils in long upright panicles from June-September.

Fruits & seeds: Flat, brown, golden haired pods form in clusters and hold 3-10 seeds.

Roots: An edible, tuberous root that can be as big as 12’ deep and 400lbs. Reproduces from runners, rhizomes, and vines that root at the node and seeds.

Similar species: Large poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans; native) leaves and vining stems look similar to grown kudzu but are hairless on the upper leaf surface. The lower leaf surface is slightly hairy and pale green. Native grapes (Vitis spp.) have similar growing habits, but leaves of grapes have long petioles and are hairless on the upper leaf surface. Grapes also have tendrils that aid in climbing.

Distribution

Known county distribution of kudzu
Counties in WI where kudzu has been reported (as of July 2011). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Currently, there have not been reports of kudzu in WI. Have you seen it? Send us a report.

Control

Mechanical: Mow small infestations every month for several growing seasons. Cuttings should be burned or bagged and disposed of in a landfill.

Chemical: Cut stem treatment or foliar spray with glyphosate, clopyralid, or triclopyr.

Photos

View kudzu pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:

  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 131-132

Links for More Information

Last revised: Wednesday December 19 2012