Kudzu revisted (off topic) Re: Today is your last chance to comment on new US plantimportregulations

Steve Marak samarak@gizmoworks.com
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 15:29:01 PDT
I live in a kudzu area, though about at the northern limit (NW Arkansas), 
and I'm sensitive to both sides of this argument.

I will say, however, that when I go out to look at wild plants, both here 
and when visiting other states, the biggest threat to them - and one that 
makes kudzu look like nothing - is habitat loss. A few big earth-movers 
can wipe out more natives in a week than kudzu would in many years, and 
since we live in a developing area, we see that happen now about once a 
month. Some site where we used to look at a native plant ecosystem is 
gone, replaced by leveled red dirt. 

There is one site we monitored for years, as one of the few known 
locations of Lilium superbum in Arkansas; it was an hour's drive from 
anything, and about half a mile down a dirt road from a kudzu infestation 
of probably 20 acres or so, and we always feared the kudzu would run down 
the road (there were no intervening natural barries) and choke out the 
lilies. 20 years later, the kudzu is the same size it was then, but the 
lilies are gone - someone bought the land, brought in tractors and 
bulldozers, cleared it, put a couple of double-wide trailers on part of it 
and used the rest for pasture. (A bunch of Cypripedium orchids were also 
wiped out.)

Even in the areas where our state fish and game commission deliberately 
planted Lonicera japonica for deer browse (and I do hate the stuff), the 
natives in general seem to persist just fine, until someone cuts the 
timber. I can't and wouldn't try to speak for every location, and I know 
there are places where an exotic plant does actively choke out natives, 
but when I started looking for examples of it around me personally, I 
didn't find many. But I did see a lot of loss to land development.

(Aaron, I took some flowering stems of kudzu to the August meeting of a 
local gardening group. They were fascinated by the grape fragrance, but 
only 2 of about 50 realized it was kudzu.)


On Wed, 21 Oct 2009, aaron floden wrote:

>  Kudzu was not introduced by Fairchild. It was introduced for fragrance 
> in 1876, and likely even before that. It was not until it was widely 
> planted as a make-work program that it began to spread. But, following 
> private property rights, it should be the introducers responsibility to 
> remove an invasive from their own and others property. Fairchild was 
> insightful enough to do it on his own before it became a major problem 
> for him, something very few of our government officials have.

>   Kudzu has been found to moderate blood glucose levels, aid in the 
> metabolization of fat deposits when consumed and many more uses. It is 
> also edible par-boiled and cooked with butter like spinach.
> --- On Thu, 10/22/09, Ellen Hornig <hornig@earthlink.net> wroteRecently I reread David Fairchild's _The World Was My Garden_ (the truly 
> magical autobiography of one of the great masterminds of US plant 
> introduction), and was amazed to find that he grew kudzu on his own property 
> and then struggled to get rid of it *before* the Soil Conservation Service 
> started planting it widely to control erosion (Fairchild, p. 328).  This 
> suggests two things to me: first, a private individual (collector) could in 
> fact be responsible for introducing a pest (Fairchild, realizing his 
> mistake, paid "over two hundred dollars", somewhere between 1900-1905, I 
> believe, to get rid of it, but not everyone would make a comparable 
> investment); second, information does not always travel far and widely 
> enough, because Fairchild was apparently not aware of the Soil Conservation 
> Service's efforts until he saw them written up in a bulletin.  There is 
> nothing in his book to suggest he tried to interfere or get them to 
> backtrack.


-- Steve Marak
-- samarak@gizmoworks.com

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