Kudzu liana covering an open forest landscape
Image by Kerry Britton, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

Kudzu liana covering an open forest landscape


Kudzu is a trailing or climbing perennial vine that is a member of the bean family. It is native to China, Japan and the Indian subcontinent. It was first introduced into North America in 1876 in the Japanese Pavilion at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and again at the New Orleans Exposition in 1884. Because of Kudzu’s range of uses in the turn of the century, Kudzu is now found in 30 states, most commonly in the South, Mid-west and Northeast regions.

Kudzu’s first recorded use was as a shade plant on porches in the American South for its attractive purple flowers that bloom in the mid-summer. It was later heavily used in the early 1900s as a government paid venture to farmers to plant the vine to prevent erosion and as a drought-tolerant food for livestock.

Kudzu effects the natural landscape of Long Island by covering other vegetation by climbing and overtopping them to access light. Since this is a vine that is rooted in ground-level soil, it also uses trees and other vertical bases to reach the top of the canopy such as telephone poles, buildings and other structures.

Kudzu grows long, hairy vines from a central root crown growing from the plant’s rhizome that can grow up to 100 feet per year. The Kudzu has dark green hairy compound leaves that vary in shape and length with three oval to heart-shaped leaflets that can be 2-4 inches long. In full sunlight, this vine produces flowers in the late-summer that range from red, purple, white or magenta and tend to have a strong grape-like aroma.

An invasion of Kudzu can cause several impacts on native communities by crowding out, out-competing and physically crushing out native species. Kudzu can cover trees of any size and can cause trees to fall from the weight of the liana and eliminate light availability within the forest canopy which can weaken and or kill shade-intolerant species such as pine trees.

Management and control methods for Kudzu can prove difficult as Kudzu can grow up to a foot per day. Eradication of Kudzu is the most common method which includes removing or killing of every root crown on the infested site. Because of the numerous root crowns that Kudzu develops throughout its growth of the vine, complete eradication could take 5 to 10 years of effort. Herbicide use required defoliation during the growing season which should be implemented during the early-fall to prevent growth in spring and summer. Mechanical harvesting of Kudzu by mowing vines and root crowns every two weeks can take up to 10 years to completely eradicate. All cut plant material of Kudzu should be destroyed through burning or bagging and landfilling to prevent further spread. Conservation grazing by herbivores, mowing and moderate herbicide use are all suggested measures of controlling Kudzu.


Kudzu Webpage,New York Invasive Species Information. This webpage explores the distribution of Kudzu throughout New York, the impacts of Kudzu on the local environment as well as policies implemented to prevent the spread of Kudzu throughout New York State.

Invasive Species Spotlight – Kudzu, New York State Parks & Historical Sites Blog. This blog post highlights Kudzu sightings in New York State and includes identifying pictures of Kudzu in New York State as well as a brief overview of Kudzu and its impacts.

Kudzu Webpage, National Invasive Species Information Center, USDA. This webpage highlights important information about Kudzu including its introduction to the U.S., distribution maps, collections of imagery for identification, videos and other resources. 

Last updated April 13, 2022