The Bugwood Network

Kudzu
Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr.

International Code - PUMOL
FIA survey code - 3123


Miller, James H. 2003. Nonnative invasive plants of southern forests: a field guide for identification and control. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–62. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 93 p.

acrobat version

Synonyms: P. lobata (Willd.) Ohwi, P. montana var. lobata (Willd.) Maesen & S. Almeida

Plant. Deciduous twining, trailing, mat-forming, ropelike woody leguminous vine, 35 to 100 feet (10 to 30 m) long with three-leaflet leaves. Large semiwoody tuberous roots reaching depths of 3 to 16 feet (1 to 5 m). Leaves and small vines dying with first frost and matted dead leaves persistent during winter.

Stem. Woody vines to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter, round in cross section, with infrequent branching. Stems yellow green with dense erect golden hairs and upward matted silver hairs, aging to ropelike, light gray, and hairless. Frequent unswollen nodes that root when on the ground. Mature bark eventually rough, rigid, and usually dark brown.

Leaves. Alternate, pinnately compound three-leaflet leaves, each leaflet 3 to 7 inches (8 to 18 cm) long and 2.5 to 8 inches (6 to 20 cm) wide. Usually slightly lobed (unless in shade): a two-lobed symmetric middle leaflet and two one-lobed side leaflets, all petioles swollen near leaflets. Tips pointed. Margins thin membranous and fine golden hairy. Leafstalks 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long, long hairy, base swollen, with deciduous stipules.

Flowers. June to September. Axillary slender clusters (racemes), 2 to 12 inches (5 to 30 cm) long, of pealike flowers in pairs (or threes) from raised nodes spiraling up the stalk, opening from the base to top. Petals lavender to wine colored with yellow centers.

Fruit and seeds. September to January. Clustered dry, flattened legume pods (bulging above the seeds) each 1.2 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) long and 0.3 to 0.5 inch (8 to 12 mm) wide. Green ripening to tan with stiff golden-brown hairs. Splitting on one to two sides to release a few ovoid seeds.

Ecology. Occurs in old infestations, along right-of-ways and stream banks. Forms dense mats over the ground, debris, shrubs, and mature trees forming dense patches by twining on objects less than 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Colonizes by vines rooting at nodes and spreads by wind-, animal-, and water-dispersed seeds. Seed viability variable. Leguminous nitrogen fixer.


July
Photo by J. Miller


June
Photo by T. Bodner

History and use. Introduced from Japan and China in early 1900s with continued seed importation. Erosion control, livestock feed, and folk art.



October
Photo by J. Miller


April
Photo by J. Miller


July
Photo by J. Miller


July
Photo by T. Bodner


November
Photo by T. Bodner


November
Photo by J. Miller



States with suspected infestations are shown in gray.


Recommended control procedures:

  • Thoroughly wet all leaves (until runoff) with one of the following herbicides in water with a surfactant: July to October for successive years when regrowth appears—Tordon 101* ‡ as a 3-percent solution (12 ounces per 3-gallon mix) or Tordon K* ‡ as a 2-percent solution (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix), either by broadcast or spot spray—spraying climbing vines as high as possible. July to September for successive years—Escort* at 3 to 4 ounces per acre in water (0.8 to 1.2 dry ounces per 3-gallon mix)—or when safety to surrounding vegetation is desired, Transline† as a 0.5-percent solution in water (2 ounces per 3-gallon mix); spray climbing vines as high as possible or cut vines that are not controlled after herbicide treatment.
  • For partial control, repeatedly apply Garlon 4 or a glyphosate herbicide as a 2-percent solution in water (8 ounces per 3-gallon mix) with a surfactant during the growing season. Cut large vines and immediately apply these herbicides to the cut surfaces. Or, apply Garlon 4 as a 20-percent solution in commercially available basal oil, diesel fuel, or kerosene (2.5 quarts per 3-gallon mix) with a penetrant (check with herbicide distributor) to large vines as a basal spray (January to April), which controls vines less than 2 inches in diameter.

*   Nontarget plants may be killed or injured by root uptake.
†   Transline controls a narrow spectrum of plant species.
‡   When using Tordon herbicides, rainfall must occur within 6 days after application for needed soil activation. Tordon herbicides are Restricted Use Pesticides.


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USDA Forest ServiceUSDA APHIS PPQThe Bugwood Network University of Georgia Bargeron, C.T., D.J. Moorhead, G.K. Douce, R.C. Reardon & A.E. Miller
(Tech. Coordinators). 2003. Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S.:
Identification and Control. USDA Forest Service - Forest Health
Technology Enterprise Team. Morgantown, WV USA. FHTET-2003-08.