By Mathew Parks
The next time you see some massive green vine overtaking a grove of trees, don’t assume it’s kudzu.
Yes, kudzu (Pueraria montana) is found in Big Canoe. When one thinks of this invasive vine, they envision roadside structures and trees draped in green slowly disappearing beneath the growth. As a matter of fact, in the South, you can’t go very far without seeing it. It is a plant that originated in Southeast Asia and was introduced in 1876 to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition with the intent of using it for erosion control. Well, it works. Too well, in fact. Since its introduction, kudzu has left its original areas and has become a noxious and invasive weed in areas along roadsides, right-of-ways and wood lines.
But not every vine in our mountain community that is seen draped over trees and shrubs has ill intent. The landscape department receives many phone calls every summer from homeowners stating they have kudzu on their property. Sometimes they do, but the majority of times they have mistaken other plants for our nemesis. The most common pseudo-kudzu is grapevine.
There are two different species of grape that share the same growing habits and overall similar looks: standard Muscadine and big-leaf Muscadine. Both are native, dark green, grape-bearing vines that offer wildlife and passers-by a sweet treat during the summer.
What will differentiate the grapevine from kudzu is coloration. Muscadine is a glossy dark green while kudzu is a lighter green. The shape of the leaves (muscadine have irregular, coarse, zig-zagging leaf edges while kudzu leaves are smooth) and, of course, the presence of fruit.
So if you have kudzu in your yard or notice it while traveling through Big Canoe, what do you do? Please call the Grounds and Landscape department at (706) 268 – 3319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take care of it.