News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Metro RTA

Greater Akron Chamber

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Environment


“The vine that ate the South” heads North
A pesky weed that is hard to get rid of can now be found in areas around Cleveland
Story by ANNE GLAUSSER


 
Kudzu, a vine destructive to crops, is moving its way north to cities like Cleveland.
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

Say the word “kudzu” to anyone from the South and they’ll probably know what you’re talking about.

That’s because in states like Georgia and Alabama the invasive vine known as kudzu covers roadsides, chokes forests, brings down power lines, and blankets entire buildings.

Kudzu’s twined itself into Southern culture, but it’s a big environmental headache, causing crop and property damage and loss of biodiversity. And now the vine’s coming north.

For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN’s Anne Glausser has the story of one rogue patch near Lake Erie.

LISTEN: Glausser on the kudzu plant issue

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:49)


“Oh my god, look at it. It goes all the way up the wire and the pole."

Photographer Jean O’Malley was shocked when she got her first glimpse of the kudzu patch in the Collinwood neighborhood of Cleveland.  It’s nothing but a sea of green in the gravel parking lot she’s looking at. 

The vine has worked its way up the power line here and along the fencing and onto the nearby business and over the trees clear to people’s homes. 

Quite an eyeful.  Amy Stone agrees.

“Yeah,” Stone said. “Wow. It’s quite a stand of it.”

A weed on steroids
She’s on the invasive team with Ohio State University Extension and came to check this out with us.

Kudzu’s caused a lot of grief down South.

“It’s also known as the vine that swallowed the South, or the vine that ate the South,” Stone said. “And so just imagine this kind of on steroids everywhere. … It’s a very aggressive, invasive, non-native species that at first they thought would maybe be a southern problem because of our winters. But as you can see around us, I mean that’s not the case.”

Getting acclimated
Researchers aren't entirely sure why the vine is extending its Northern reach, but many attribute it to climate change.

“Some of that is evolving,” Stone said. “So we thought maybe it wouldn't be hardy here. As our weather changes and we have maybe a longer growing season, we may be able to see flowering and seeding and so that would just spread it even faster.”

Kudzu can grow a foot a day -- up to 60 feet a season. It throws down roots everywhere it can, working its way into cracks and crevices on buildings, even collapsing whole barns and buckling power lines.

Ohio recently joined 14 other states in adding kudzu to the state’s noxious weed list.

“I think there’s even been some established sites in Maine, up the East Coast and all the way through the Midwest,” Stone said.

An invited guest ...
Funny thing is farmers were told to plant kudzu, back in the 1930s, to control erosion. 

“But then what we found out is it, there’s just no stopping kudzu,” Stone said.

It hasa pretty purple flower and was originally brought over from Asia as an ornamental.People still take cutting, unknowingly unleashing the beast. Now the vine can spread not only by ground but by wind or animal.

“Wherever it drops off would be another start of kudzu,” Stone said.

... Becomes and invader
And with kudzu comes problems: It drives out native plants, swallows trees whole and kills them, causes structural damage, and is bad for farmers.  Kudzu brings kudzu bugs which also like to eat soybeans, and the vine plays host to the crop disease soybean rust.

While milling around, a neighbor came over.

“Well are you gonna have them clean it up?” resident George Nelson asked. 

Once kudzu’s got a foothold in a place, it takes a whole lot of money and perseverance to clean it up. 

“If you don’t get every little piece of it, it will be back,” Stone said.

Stone says herbicides are the most effective way to take down the vine. Goats have also been tried as a means of control.

But to Nelson's point: Who is going to clean this up?

Turns out, someone offered way back when kudzu was first discovered here in early 2000.

Jim Bissell is a botanist with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and he estimates it’d take nearly $10,000 to clean this up.

“Through our conservation outreach program, I would have done it and I still would,” Bissell said.

Problem is, Bissell couldn't find a taker.  Property owners didn’t want to get their hands dirty, so he let it drop.

Bissell is now reviving efforts to get this spot cleaned up, but the road is all the more, weedy.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Stories with Recent Comments

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University