Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) was introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876 as part of a soil conservation program. It is commonly found in throughout much of the southeastern U.S., west to Texas, and in the mid-Atlantic states. On rare occasion it can be found as far north as the southern portions of New York. Kudzu is a weed of forests, right-of-ways, roadsides, abandoned fields, fence rows, and noncrop areas. It is resilient, thriving on many soil types, including nutrient-deficient, sandy, clay, or loamy soils.
Kudzu can be described as an aggressive, climbing, or trailing, herbaceous to semi-woody perennial vine with large trifoliolate leaves (3 leaflets). The vines can grow 30-100 feet in one growing season and up to 12 inches/day. Because of its susceptibility to frost this plant die back to the ground in the fall. If not managed properly, kudzu can overtake all other vegetation, even trees.
Reproduction is by seeds and spreading roots that develop shoots. An extensive fleshy root system exists with large tuberous roots. Reddish purple flowers are produced in late July through early September. Some plants may not flower in more northern regions.
To learn more about the growing problem of Kudzu, watch the following video courtesy of the University of Tennessee.
Resource: Uva, Richard H., Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. DiTomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Ithaca: Comstock Pub. Associates, 1997. Print.