“The vine that ate the south” is what the locals call this plant, which has been conquering the American southern states for many years. Originally native to Asia, kudzu was introduced to the USA in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. Especially during the time of the Great Depression, kudzu was widely cultivated under the New Deal programs. The plant was intended to stop soil erosion. But what was not considered, due to the mild winters and the lack of natural predators, the highly invasive plant found ideal conditions and was able to spread uncontrolled. Today kudzu is a huge problem.
The overgrown landscapes are fascinating. Trees remind us of animals or figures from a mythical world and forests seem to be enchanted. But the beautiful appearance conceals a bitter truth. Overgrown trees die due to lack of light and the heavy weight of the plant. Animals find less food, which significantly reduces the diversity of species. This is a dramatic development, especially for the southern states, which have a very high species diversity due to genetic factors and the subtropical climate. Also the economic damage is enormous, Kudzu destroys whole estates, power lines have to be constantly renewed and railway tracks have to be freed. Kudzu has permanently changed the landscape of the American South.