It is estimated that 2 million acres of forests in the southern United States are covered with kudzu! Pueraria lobata is a climbing perennial vine was brought to the US to be used as an ornamental plant and as a forage crop in 1876. Many Southern farmers were encouraged to plant kudzu for erosion control from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. It was not until 1953 that this plant was recognized as a pest species by the US Department of Agriculture, and it is now classified as an invasive species.


At a rate of 1 foot per day, kudzu can grow over almost anything in its path including homes, cars and road signs!  It also smothers native vegetation, threatening local biodiversity.


Kudzu has the potential to reach up to 100 feet in length.  The woody stems can reach a diameter of ½ to 4 inches. Leaflets are 3 lobed, broad and are arranged alternately. In addition, leaflets may have hairy margins. The purple flowers are ½ inch long and found in hanging clusters. Flowering occurs in late summer, followed by the production of brown, hairy, flattened, seed pods that contain three to ten seeds.

kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata (Fabales: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)) - 1316007kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata (Fabales: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)) - 0016125

Control and Management

Prevention: Prevention of the sale and transport of Kudzu is the most cost-effective means of management.

The total eradication of kudzu is necessary to prevent re-growth. This requires continuous monitoring and thoroughness when treating. To prevent reestablishment, replanting after treatment is critical. It is important to prevent the production of viable seed and to destroy the plant’s ability to reproduce vegetatively.

A chemical herbicide, a 5% solution of Glyphosate, can be effective for small infestations such as stands growing up fences or poles. Reapplication is necessary.

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Photo credits: Title photo by Kerry Britton, USDA Forest Service. Identification photos by James H. Miller & Ted Bodner – Organization: Southern Weed Science Society.


Prevent the introduction of invasive species into the SLELO PRISM.

Rapidly detect new and recent invaders and eliminate all individuals within a specific area.

Share resources, including funding personnel, equipment, information, and expertise.

Collect, utilize, and share information regarding surveys, infestations, control methods, monitoring, and research.

Control invasive species infestations by using best management practices, methods and techniques to include: ERADICATION (which is to eliminate all individuals and the seed bank from an area), CONTAINMENT (which is reducing the spread of established infestations from entering an uninfested area) and SUPPRESSION which is to reduce the density but not necessarily the total infested area.

Develop and implement effective restoration methods for areas that have been degraded by invasive species and where suppression or control has taken place.

Increase public awareness and understanding of invasive species.

Develop and implement innovative technologies that help us to better understand, visualize, alleviate or manage invasive species and their impacts or that serve to strengthen ecosystem function and/or processes.

Rob Williams
PRISM Coordinator

Megan Pistolese
Outreach and Education

Brittney Rogers
Aquatic Invasive Species

Robert Smith
Terrestrial Invasive Species