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Kudzu, we don’t need it

Last week I introduced the kudzu vine in this column. I will talk about that pest in the article today.
Around the end of the eighteen hundreds soil erosion in the southern United States became a large problem, and scientists were working feverishly to come up with a plant that would grow well in the washed out ditches, and would serve as a means of cutting down on soil erosion. They learned of a plant on the other side of the world, in China and Japan, that was the very thing that was needed here, and the wise men sold each other on the merits of the kudzu,
In the year 1895, the kudzu vine made its first appearance in the United States, and that day should be marked down in U. S. history as a bad one. When kudzu came, it was very popular, and like many American discoveries, it didn’t take very long for it to wear out its welcome. It was soon learned that even though the vine was good at cutting down erosion, it was a very fast growing plant, and those who sang its praises were the first to notice that it covered too much ground in too short a time.
The popular vine was planted along most of America’s main highways, as well as many that were of the secondary type. Farmers used it on their raw ditches, and saw it as a savior of the country’s farmers.
Some people say the vine can grow to the height of 60 feet, and people who know will tell you that a 60-foot kudzu is just a baby one. There was a time when the Virginia Highway Department planted it along the east side of Lee Highway going into the town of Pulaski. The vine attached itself to the electric wires crossing the highway, and it walked along those wires at such a fast pace that one could almost see it growing as he drove into town. It climbed power poles, and attached itself to them; and also to healthy trees. All over this section of the state, trees that had once been straight and tall, soon became low bending with the weight of a giant kudzu.
Even today, the vine is growing with great speed into pastures and cropland of farmers, and in most cases is requiring more of the farmers time as once did the musk thistle a few years ago.
Where will it all stop? Will the primeval forest be replaced by the dreaded kudzu? As man grows older, wiser, and weaker, will the awful vine cover his home, his Lincoln, and finally, (God forbid), crawl across the beautiful green golf course? Has our attention been too long diverted by thoughts of atomic radiation sewage lagoons, and septic tanks, when all the while the real enemy , the kudzu has been sneaking up on us? Rather than predicting a nuclear holocaust, will thwe tentacles of the dreaded kudzu vine chase man into a bomb shelter, and wrap around him until his life is snuffed out?
Epilogue
I want to say right here and now that the Virginia Department of Highways and the landowners have made great strides in recent years to control the kudzu plant, so we can all breathe easier

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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Kudzu, we don’t need it

Last week I introduced the kudzu vine in this column. I will talk about that pest in the article today.
Around the end of the eighteen hundreds soil erosion in the southern United States became a large problem, and scientists were working feverishly to come up with a plant that would grow well in the washed out ditches, and would serve as a means of cutting down on soil erosion. They learned of a plant on the other side of the world, in China and Japan, that was the very thing that was needed here, and the wise men sold each other on the merits of the kudzu,
In the year 1895, the kudzu vine made its first appearance in the United States, and that day should be marked down in U. S. history as a bad one. When kudzu came, it was very popular, and like many American discoveries, it didn’t take very long for it to wear out its welcome. It was soon learned that even though the vine was good at cutting down erosion, it was a very fast growing plant, and those who sang its praises were the first to notice that it covered too much ground in too short a time.
The popular vine was planted along most of America’s main highways, as well as many that were of the secondary type. Farmers used it on their raw ditches, and saw it as a savior of the country’s farmers.
Some people say the vine can grow to the height of 60 feet, and people who know will tell you that a 60-foot kudzu is just a baby one. There was a time when the Virginia Highway Department planted it along the east side of Lee Highway going into the town of Pulaski. The vine attached itself to the electric wires crossing the highway, and it walked along those wires at such a fast pace that one could almost see it growing as he drove into town. It climbed power poles, and attached itself to them; and also to healthy trees. All over this section of the state, trees that had once been straight and tall, soon became low bending with the weight of a giant kudzu.
Even today, the vine is growing with great speed into pastures and cropland of farmers, and in most cases is requiring more of the farmers time as once did the musk thistle a few years ago.
Where will it all stop? Will the primeval forest be replaced by the dreaded kudzu? As man grows older, wiser, and weaker, will the awful vine cover his home, his Lincoln, and finally, (God forbid), crawl across the beautiful green golf course? Has our attention been too long diverted by thoughts of atomic radiation sewage lagoons, and septic tanks, when all the while the real enemy , the kudzu has been sneaking up on us? Rather than predicting a nuclear holocaust, will thwe tentacles of the dreaded kudzu vine chase man into a bomb shelter, and wrap around him until his life is snuffed out?
Epilogue
I want to say right here and now that the Virginia Department of Highways and the landowners have made great strides in recent years to control the kudzu plant, so we can all breathe easier

Lloyd Mathews is a retired land surveyor and a historian who lives in Pulaski.

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