Kudzu is an ivy-like plant, originating in Japan.
Seeds and seedlings were imported to the U.S. Atlantic coast in order to preserve the dunes and barrier islands on the Georgia and Carolina coasts.

Kudzu vines can grow up to a foot in a 24 hour period, given the proper conditions, and has been known to overgrow telephone poles, homes, vehicles, and other stationary objects.

In fact, it reminds me of Everything.slashdot.org

You can drive through parts of the South and see entire landscapes covered in this vine. The big mounds you see out there; what do you think they are? Well, they used to be trees. Nice, big, healthy trees.

As Option8 has indicated, kudzu (Latin name Pueraria lobata) was imported to the US willingly. The Japanese delegates to the US displayed the vine in 1876 as "kuzu." In 1884, it had become known as kudzu and was shown at the New Orleans Exposition. Soon thereafter, it was widely planted in the South as a cheap source of food for grazing livestock as well as an erosion-control agent.

The real problem began in the 1940's when the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps run by the Federal Government ("We're only here to help you.")) began planting it in ditches along highways.

The vines can grow 12 to 18 inches a day. Unlike most plants, they grow at night by storing energy during the day and using it when it's dark. Roots can grow 20 feet down. Some plants have been known to grow a total of 100 feet a year. It can grow almost anywhere, even across areas where hardly any other plant could survive. Anything not watched carefully can be covered in kudzu within days. Not only trees, but barns, houses, swimming pools, etc. Police often discover bodies underneath the kudzu in the winter when the foliage falls off the vines. It has saved some lives by cushioning the crash of cars which run off the road.

It was 1972 before the USDA declared it a noxious weed and plans were made to stop its spread. Unfortunately, nothing can kill it. You can burn it, pour herbicides on it, even spray it with Agent Orange. It all seems to just make it grow back stronger. Kudzu now covers 7 million acres from Florida to New York and Texas. Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi have the heaviest infestation. (Thanks a lot, FDR!)

A new fungus has been developed (Myrothecium verrucaria) and this may just work to eradicate the devil weed. Let's see what the tree-huggers have to say about this, eh? Which is more valuable, a weed or a tree? Who draws this ecological line in the sand?

Kudzu was also the name of a comic strip by North Carolina man Doug Marlette -- it appeared in more than 300 newspapers at its peak (probably mostly in the South), won a Pulitzer Prize, and has been made into a musical. The strip ran from 1981 until Marlette's death in a car accident in 2007. Some of the major characters are a teenage boy named Kudzu Dubose (whose name obviously references the vine that Marlette said "is known to overtake cows and slow-moving children"), the Reverend Will B. Dunn, and mechanic Uncle Dub, all in the small Southern town of Bypass.

In the South, people have made some creative attempts to deal with kudzu. A forestry service person told me that they burn some infested forest plots to keep it under control. My favorite attempt at kudzu control is Tallahassee, Florida. They have rented a herd of sheep. They put the sheep out where the kudzu is, and the sheep eat it! Then they move the sheep to another area that needs to be de-kudzu'd. I have not heard how successful this is yet, but it's pretty fun to drive around the city and spot the sheep. While the sheep do leave some waste, Tallahassee is the capital of Florida, so people are used to wading in it.
kudzu is also the hardware configuration tool for Red Hat Linux. Introduced in version 6.1, it has made changing hardware on a Red Hat system _virtually_ trivial. This of course excludes video cards given that XFree86 controls that realm of things (sigh). kudzu mostly just detects hardware and keeps a database, sending you off to other config tools for the actual configuration, if neccesary. Sound cards bring up sndconfig, video cards: Xconfigurator, mice: mouseconfig, etc.

Seeing as how kudzu (in the other definitions of it) appears to be a southern thang, and Red Hat is based in RTP, I wonder if this played a role when the Red Hat folk were trying to come up with a name.

None of the writeups above have mentioned the main reason kudzu is so deadly to other plants. The leaves that grow on the kudzu vine are thick and can grow as large as 8 inches across (and they're kind of fuzzy, too, like a peach skin). These leaves grow in a very dense arrangement, with nearly no gap between them. When you couple this very large leaf size with kudzu's ability to grow extremely fast and cover virtually anything in its path, sunlight no longer reaches any part of the ground or any plants underneath it. This kills off everything else, leaving the kudzu free to take all the water and nutrients from the soil for itself. Kudzu can even kill large trees because of its ability to climb and cover the entire surface area of the tree. not good

Kudzu is almost always referred to as a noxious, invasive weed. However, as has been pointed out, kudzu was originally brought to America as a crop. While it may grow a little too fast for comfort, it still does have significant uses:

  • Food. The Japanese have consumed kudzu as food for thousands of years. It's not always tasty, but it has saved many from famine. Every part of the kudzu plant is useful for food. Powdered kudzu root is a starchy flour much like corn starch and can be used to make soups and puddings. Kudzu leaf is a leafy green like spinach or kale, and is sturdy enough to use like grape leaves. Kudzu blossoms can be used to make a deep maroon tea, though many find it bitter. In Japan, a kudzu-flavored tofu is a delicacy. Kudzu recipes are readily found online.
  • Livestock feed. Livestock that are allowed to graze (free-range) will consume the kudzu leaf, and pigs will eat the starchy root. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the kudzu plant is slightly more nutritious than alfafa, making it a fairly cheap, quickly-replenishing source of food for cattle and other livestock.
  • Alternative Fuel. Using a yeast that can ferment both xylose and glucose (by way of enzymatic conversion of starches), kudzu could be a very rapid source of ethanol.
  • Medicine. Kudzu may be a powerful remedy for alcoholism, according to traditional Chinese medicine and backed up by a Harvard medical study by Dr. Bert L. Vallee and Dr. Wing-Ming Keung in 1993. The study involved hamsters that preferred alcohol to water, who were then injected them with an isoflavonoid compound derived from kudzu root extract. Most of the hamsters cut their alcohol intake in half or better, a superior result compared to many other pharmaceutical treatments for the disease. The study also noted that the kudzu root extract also resulted in reduced effects of hangovers, as well as improving the motor skills of the drunk hamsters.

Source: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/90/21/10008.pdf for the information about the alcoholism study.

Kudzu is an uncommon three mana green land aura enchantment card from Magic: The Gathering. At the time of this writing, it has eleven printings, all featuring the illustration by Mark Poole. As part of the Reserved List, there should be no more. However, this didn't stop it from having two editions for the 30th Anniversary, one in a retro frame (Collector #0497) and one in a modern frame (#0200). These two versions of this card have a non-standard Magic back making them not legal for constructed play, bending the rules for not reprinting cards on the Reserved List.

As of October 14, 2023, it is legal in the Legacy, Vintage, Commander, Oathbreaker, and Penny formats.

Kudzu allows a player to enchant any land on the battlefield that is a legal target. Then, when the enchanted land becomes tapped, it is destroyed. That land’s controller may attach Kudzu to a land of their choice. Note: Because the ability doesn't target, the controller of the destroyed land may attach it to a land that can't be the target of abilities, either their own or an opponent's.

Land destruction at its fairest.

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