Kudzu   Don Bragg
  Aug 21, 2006 06:12 PDT 


As we headed towards Village Creek State Park, Arkansas we stopped 
along the highway to view a gully that had formed following poor agricultural
practices on the top of the ridge. One of the unique features about the
silty soils of loess is how they erode--they can erode easily, but they
can also retain their vertical integrity well (hence, their use for
excavated shelters during the Civil War). The gully we observed had
very steep (virtually vertical) walls perhaps 50 or more feet deep.

The gully had a weird green color to it because it was covered in
another enigma of the South--kudzu. This is actually an example of
exactly why kudzu was introduced to the South--it excels at covering and
stabilizing eroding soils. This gully has probably not changed
markedly in many years to perhaps decades because of its kudzu covering.
Unfortunately, kudzu doesn't know that it was supposed to stay only in
the eroding areas, and now large blankets of kudzu cover many areas. I
will send Ed a picture of this gully (which reminds me in some ways of
the canyons I saw out west).

Don Bragg

2006ESA_Kudzu2a.jpg (102312 bytes)

Kudzo covered gully - photo by Don Bragg

026_23a.jpg (68186 bytes)

Kudzu Covered Gully- photo by Randy Brown
"a spectacular kudzu shrouded ravine that snakes out 
of the State park and stops just short of the road"


Saw your request for "Kudzu covered gullies".  I did get a good 
picture during the spring Ents Arkansas trip, I stopped at Village 
Creek State Park (on the Crowely's ridge region), which apparently 
has a lot of loess.  The first picture is a spectacular kudzu 
shrouded ravine that snakes out of the State park and stops just 
short of the road.

Randy Brown

RE: Loess hills   Don Bragg
  Aug 22, 2006 05:37 PDT 


I got the distinct impression that a lot of people stop to gawk at that
gully--we ended up parking in what looked to be a parking spot worn
onto the shoulder--probably by the local soil conservationist taking
people there to tell them tales of loess, erosion, and kudzu.

We did not get out and explore much of that spot--we had a day full of
stops planned, and this was just pit stop...

Don Bragg

Randy Brown wrote:

Heh. I ended up in the same place on the way back and probably took
pictures of the same gully.    I imagine seeing all the out of
staters stop and gawk provides some hilarity to the locals.

A very old road-bed that dates from early 1800's and 
was reportedly on route on the infamous Trail of Tears (1838).  You 
can see how deeply incised it is  in the deep loess (perhaps 10' 
here) on the steep slopes and the trees that have been undermined by 
the erosion.

Anyway did you hike the old Roadbed and see the tree's standing on
stilt roots from the erosion?


King Kudzu   Robert Leverett
  Aug 21, 2006 07:36 PDT 


   Your kudzu story reminded me of the use made of that pesky vine by
highway engineers in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, western North
Carolina, and northern georgia when I was growing up there. They all
thought the answer to their prayers had come in the form of kudzu since
it grew so quickly and covered slide-prone banks. I can attest that the
stuff grows so fast that you could almost hear it growing. In the
summer, it can grow a foot a day. However, the highway engineers were
soon singing a different tune, thinking less about kudzu as a blessing
from the Diety and more about kudzu as a satanic curse. But by then it
was too late. In my youth I watched kudzu cover tuliptrees at 100 to 120
feet tall. The trees were cut off from light and killed. There are some
remarkable pictures of kudzu at http://www.yahoolavista.com/kudzu/.

    Interestingly, despite its bad reputation, kudzu has many practical
uses. It is nutritious for humans and animals alike. It has been used in
Chinese and Japanese herbal medicines for centuries. Craftspersons make
baskets from kudzu vines. There are even books out on how to cook using
kudzu. Heck, maybe it is the modern manna from Heaven and we just
haven't come to realize it yet. Maybe we should all be out there
furiously planting kudzu, staring lovingly at it as it covers our trees,
cars, garages, and houses.

    I'll bet our good friend Will Fell could tell us some pretty
entertaining stories about kudzu. Will, got any kudzu tales that you'd
be willing to share? Have any towns disappeared under kudzu in southern

RE: King Kudzu   Edward Frank
  Aug 21, 2006 19:15 PDT 

Bob, Don, ENTS,

There are some excellent Kudzu photos on the ENTS website courtesy of
Randy Cyr.


Ed Frank

Re: King Kudzu   Michele Wilson
  Aug 21, 2006 19:44 PDT 

An interesting trip through Kudzu Land. A colleague headed to Florida back
around 1990 and soon after told me of the existence of kudzu vines. Glad
they're not around here! It seems we do need to be thinking about
stiltgrass around here, however.
Kudzu of the north   Steve Galehouse
  Aug 21, 2006 20:23 PDT 

We have no Kudzu here in NE Ohio; instead we have Hall's Japanese
honeysuckle, which can become so established and entrenched in the woods
that it's growth resembles the Kudzu of the southern states. If it
would only smother the garlic mustard and glossy buckthorn, and leave
the natives alone, then it would be OK.

RE: King Kudzu   Willard Fell
  Aug 22, 2006 06:36 PDT 

Actually Kudzu is not that big of a problem in the flatwoods of SE
Georgia. It was widely planted for erosion control in the hillier
piedmont region of the southeast and many of the photos on the website
were taken in those regions. When I was in school up at Athens there was
a large wooden warehouse on the edge of campus known as the guano barn.
This old fertilizer warehouse was as large as a basketball gymnasium and
was completely covered by kudzu so as to appear to be a large green hill
by the side of the road. It was not uncommon to see it spread across RR
tracks that were infrequently used.

Down here Chinese Wisteria, Japanese Climbing Fern and Japanese
Honeysuckle along with Japanese Privet, Chinaberry and Tallow tree are
the big invasives. Others include Russian Olive, various non-native
timber bamboos and Lespedeza. Don't know why so many of the invasives
such as Kudzu are of Asian origin. Unfortunately all except maybe Tallow
Tree were purposely introduced and widely planted as ornamentals or
wildlife enhancements in years past only to come back and haunt us.