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Thursday, November 10, 2016


by Gilbert Allen

Kudzu kills or damages other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, encircling woody stems and tree trunks, and breaking branches or uprooting entire trees and shrubs. Once established, kudzu grows at a rate of one foot per day; mature vines can be 100 feet long. Kudzu was introduced into the U.S. at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. From 1935 to the mid-1950s, farmers in the South were encouraged to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion. Kudzu is spread by vines that root at the nodes to form new plants. To successfully control kudzu, its extensive root system must be completely eradicated by cutting vines just above the ground and mowing every month for two growing seasons—all cut material must be destroyed. The U.S. Forest Service is searching for biological control agents for kudzu. —The Nature Conservancy

1. Next to that red American clay, bare
and beckoning as a billionaire’s
baseball cap, it seemed
like a giant green blessing.

2. What else to eat in Nagasaki
in September, 1945,
but its white
indestructible roots?

3. Without kudzu, April in South Carolina
would be too full of blue
skies, flowering dogwoods, azaleas
and itself.

4. Men planted it.
Pigs love it.
Why can’t men be pigs?

5. After the first cold Tuesday in November
it still gives death
a good name.

Gilbert Allen has lived in South Carolina for forty years. His most recent books are Catma and The Final Days of Great American Shopping.