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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Kudzu could be moving into your neighborhood

Kudzu leaf.jpgSTILLWATER, Okla. – For a plant that is not supposed to be in Oklahoma, kudzu is doing quite well for itself.

Karen Hickman, professor in Oklahoma State University’s Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, said there are approximately 45 to 50 confirmed locations of active and healthy populations of this extremely invasive plant in Oklahoma. One such location is in a residential neighborhood in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The new homeowner purchased the property without knowing the kudzu was already established in an old, mature series of holly plants used in the landscape. Upon bringing a section of the plant into the Payne County Extension office, horticulture educator Keith Reed thought he was looking at some very large poison ivy.

“He said it was kudzu,” Reed said. “He was absolutely right.”

The plant, listed on the Oklahoma Invasive Plant Council’s invasive species list, is usually spread by a cutting, or a person who is uneducated about kudzu and not aware it will do more harm than good.

This aggressive vine will resprout every year. There will be a compact leaf with three leaflets at every node, which will root wherever there is an opportunity and create a new individual plant. Its fuzzy leaf texture protects it from predation by insects and it has a lot of rusty brown spots along its very elastic stem.

The opportunistic vines produce runners that travel along the ground, up structures and even around itself to gain support to reach another structure and engulf it, as well, Hickman said.

“It will require a mechanical treatment and a herbicide treatment, repeated throughout the course of several years to be able to remove it from that location,” she said. “It’s very challenging, because along each of the branches several individual plants could be produced.”

Even with harsh winters and multiple years worth of drought conditions, the kudzu is going strong.

“It’s a problem we’re not supposed to have in this part of the country. It behaves like a very aggressive form of Bermuda grass,” Reed said. “It grows across the top of the surface and underground. People need to become aware of it and be very diligent in removing it.”

Kudzu could be easily mistaken for poison ivy, but the leaves are much bigger. Homeowners just need to see it.

“Once you’ve seen it, it’s unmistakable,” Reed said.

Landowners who need help identifying the plant or assistance in its management should contact their local county Extension office.

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Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
145 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000