Practical information to identify and manage non-native, invasive plants and animals
The Quiet Invasion:
A Guide to Invasive Species of the Galveston Bay Area
Kudzu, Japanese arrowroot
Pueraria montana

USDA Symbol:PUMO
ITIS TSN:504683
Presence:Current Invaders
Habitat:Terrestrial
Native Range:China
Toxic Characteristics
This species is not known to be toxic.
Geographic Distribution
Range extends north from all Gulf Coast states to Massachusetts and west to South Dakota. Also found in Washington and Oregon. Has been found in the Lower Galveston Bay watershed in Galveston and Liberty counties.
Introduction Pathways
First brought to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Later widely cultivated as an ornamental, an erosion reducer, forage crop, and nitrogen fixer.
Specific Primary Habitats
Thrives in well-drained soil, and prefers disturbed, sandy eroding soil. Found along roadsides, fences, telephone poles, and abandoned lots, forest clearings and edges, and stream banks.
Identifying Characteristics
This deciduous leguminous vine has tuberous roots. Leaves are alternate and pinnately compound, made of 3 leaflets, each 3 - 7 in. long and 2.5 - 8 in. wide. Leaflets are mildly lobed with pointed tips. Flowers are small and reddish-purple, clustering in spike-like racemes (small flower branches) and have a sweet grape-like smell. Fruit is a flattened, hairy, brown pod containing few seeds, which are hard and oval.
Reproduction Characteristics
Most commonly propagates through rooting at nodes and root fragmentation. Seeds have low viability. Flowers from June to September, and later fruits one seed crop, remaining on the plant until January.
Growth Characteristics
Can grow up to 1 foot per day and may climb to 100 feet in a growing season. Rapidly grows back from tubers in successive seasons.
Ecological, Economic, or Social Impact
Threatens native timberland by eliminating nearly all light availability to trees. An estimated $500 million is lost every year in control measures and land productivity loss. Carries an Asian bean rust that threatens soybean agriculture.
Control
Foliar applications of a 3% solution of Tordon 101 applied between July and October provide good control. Use Transline when protection of surrounding vegetation is desired. For established vines, use the cut-stem method of glyphosate application.

Native Species Alternatives
Below is a list of alternative plants that are native to the area:
  • Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata)
  • Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
  • Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
This species belongs to the following lists:
Images
To view a larger version of an image, click on the thumbnail.
Kudzu leaves and flower. Photo courtesy of David J. Moorhead, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1162002.
Kudzu leaves and flower. Photo courtesy of David J. Moorhead, The University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1162002.
Severe infestation of the kudzu plant affecting an entire forest clearing and surrounding trees. Photo courtesy John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624015.
Severe infestation of the kudzu plant affecting an entire forest clearing and surrounding trees. Photo courtesy John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624015.
Infestation of the kudzu plant along forest edge and roadside meadow. Photo courtesy of Jerry Asher, USDI Bureau of Land Management, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624019.
Infestation of the kudzu plant along forest edge and roadside meadow. Photo courtesy of Jerry Asher, USDI Bureau of Land Management, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 1624019.
Close-up of a kudzu leaf. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307161.
Close-up of a kudzu leaf. Photo courtesy of James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307161.
Close-up of mature kudzu seed pods. Photo courtesy of Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307165.
Close-up of mature kudzu seed pods. Photo courtesy of Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society, www.forestryimages.org; Image Number 2307165.
Page Updated/Reviewed: 07/14/2010 8:32 AM
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