Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family
Description This highly invasive vine, which can be seen in the Deep South covering entire trees, bears red-purple to violet blue flowers which smell of grape soda.
Habit: introduced perennial vine; twining or trailing, stems herbaceous and hairy to semi-woody, smooth and rope-like.
Height: stems to 100 ft (33 m) long.
Leaf: alternate, trifoliate, 2-8 in (5-20 cm); leaflets ovate, hairy, pointed, lobed to wavy; center leaflet lobed on both sides, the lateral leaflets lobed on outer side only.
Flower: 0.5-1 in (12-25 mm) long and wide, pea-like; in stalked elongated cluster, 4-8 in (10-20 cm) long, held in leaf axil.
Fruit: long straight pod, hairy, dark brown, flat but bulging over seeds, to 3 in (7.5 cm) long and 0.3 in (8 mm) wide.
Flower August to September.
Habitat Open, disturbed areas: forest edges, roadsides, abandoned fields; in the southeast, any habitat in the vicinity of an existing kudzu population is at risk of invasion.
Range Native to Asia; introduced to the U.S. from Japan as an ornamental in 1876; now naturalized in eastern and central U.S., from Connecticut and New York, south to Florida, west to Texas, north to Nebraska; also naturalized in Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii.
Discussion Kudzu grows extremely fast and is very invasive. It is prohibited in 13 states. Also called Japanese arrowroot, foot-a-night vine, vine-that-ate-the-South, ko-hemp.
Kudzu was introduced to this country as an ornamental plant in the Japanese pavilion at the 1876 Centennial Exposition. Its use in the South for livestock forage, soil cover and erosion control was advocated and in some cases subsidized by the federal government until 1953.