Identify Kudzu So Many Invasive Species of Vines

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How to Identify Kudzu

Kudzu is a plant that is native to Japan, but very prevalent in the southern United States due to its importation as a ground cover in the 19th century. Kudzu is a vine that is noted for its incredibly quick growth; at a growth rate of up to a foot (30 cm) per day, the plant has gained a reputation as a highly invasive species. Learning how to identify kudzu will enable you to recognize a kudzu invasion in your area. This is the first step to keeping kudzu under control.


  1. Look for trifoliate leaves, or formations with 3 leaflets attached at each node.All 3 leaves will be attached to the stem on their own petiole, or stalk. The central leaf's petiole will be about 3/4 inch (19 mm) long, while the 2 outer leaves have much shorter petioles.
  2. Look for egg shaped, medium green leaves.Generally, the central leaflet will have 3 lobes, or rounded projections. The outer 2 leaflets often have 2 lobes. However, kudzu's lobe structure can vary, with many leaves having no lobes at all. Leaves can grow quite large, often to about 5 or 6 inches (12 - 15 cm) long.
  3. Touch the leaves to see if they are fuzzy.Kudzu leaves have very small hairs, making them fuzzy to the touch.
  4. Look for long vines covered in small, brownish bristles that trail across the ground, climb any vertical surface, and form dense bunches of foliage.The key characteristic of kudzu vines is their tremendous growth rate; they can gain a foot (30 cm) of length per day in peak conditions. Kudzu can often be seen entirely covering tall trees, utility poles, or other structures. As they mature, vines may become thick and woody. Kudzu vines are capable of climbing nearly any type of support, and will also snake across the ground, rooting at each node.
  5. Look for purple or reddish purple flowers arranged in clusters.Kudzu produces flowers in late summer, usually in August or September in the southern United States. The flowers form a cluster (called a raceme) that can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) high and emerge from the central petiole of a leaf arrangement.
  6. Measure the seed pods with a ruler.Kudzu produces small seed pods, usually about 2 inches (5 cm) in length. T
  7. Look for hairs covering the seed pods.
  8. Cut open a seed pod and check that the seeds are small and kidney shaped.
  9. Look for seed pods that are greenish-bronze, fading to a dull brown when dried.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How do I kill kudzu?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Kudzu is extremely invasive and difficult to kill off. Trimming the foliage and body of the plant down before applying herbicides can help. Make sure you have an herbicide designed for killing kudzu, as not all are the same.
  • Question
    Is it poisonous if I eat it?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    The leaves, vine tips, flowers and roots are edible; the vines are not. The leaves can be used like spinach and eaten raw, chopped up and baked in quiches, cooked like collards, or deep fried. Young kudzu shoots are tender and taste similar to snow peas.
  • Question
    Do kudzu produce seeds that look like a smallish potato, laying about on the ground? About the size of an egg and bigger.
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    A kudzu seed is about 1/2 inch in a pod that is two inches, so it probably isn't what you are describing.
  • Question
    Where in New York State does kudzu grow?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It doesn't. It is too cold there for it to grow. Only if there is a really hot summer could it grow.
  • Question
    Why did Japan bring it to the US?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Japanese individuals (not the country itself) brought the vine to the US to use as an ornamental plant. It really thrived in the southeastern US, and now it is everywhere. It is a very pretty plant and it has a nice smell, so I can see why someone would see it and think, "That would look great in my garden back in the States.
  • Question
    Can kudzu be grown in Virginia, and if so, where?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    It is illegal to plant it, so don't plant it anywhere. If it is too cold, though, it won't grow fast, so it is a perfect potted plant.
Unanswered Questions
  • Does kudzu look like a squash or watermelon plant with yellow flowers?
  • Is kudzu found along roads?
  • Where can I find information regarding the medical use of kudzu?
  • Five lobes pointed with lacy white flowers; is it kudzu?
  • Can the leaves have a definite grey coloration alongside the central stem?
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  • Kudzu is deciduous, meaning it loses its leaves in the winter.


  • Many local governments have laws against intentionally planting kudzu due to its highly invasive nature. Some governments even request that you alert them to the presence of kudzu if discovered.

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95% of people told us that this article helped them.
Views: 59,007

Renee Spann

Aug 28

"I now know what the plant growing in my yard is and how to eliminate it from certain areas. It still grows allaround the yard, but I know how to keep it at a minimum now."


Jul 17, 2019

"Have crazy vines taking over my garden, live in central VA. Kudzu is a terrible menace around here, overtaking andkilling huge swaths of native ecosystem. Luckily that's not what's in my garden, but can't ever be too careful with invasive species like that. If you come across it, kill as much as possible, save the South!"
Rated this article:

Kathi Purnell

Jul 7, 2019

"I was looking for pictures, to see if the weedy vine in my yard is kudzu. While there weren't actual photos, thedrawings were good and very helpful."

Nancy Jewell

Jul 27, 2019

"Kudzu has invaded my grapes and has hindered grape production. I'm trying to get rid of it. Identifying the leafwill aid in purging the plant."
Rated this article:

Virginia Jones

Aug 11, 2019

"For once there is a picture of a single plant, not the usual, all-over-the-house-and-trees one. I think I have thisinvasive vine at my house."

Patti Salsgiver

Jun 26, 2019

"It described the look of the plant, leaves and seed pods. It also shows how far north it has reached and how itgrows. Very helpful. "
Rated this article:

Sue Weekes

Sep 17, 2019

"I have this all over my yard & wasn't sure of what it was. Thanks for helping to identify the beast!"

Donna Foster

Jul 19, 2019

"Facts up front, no long descriptions, just what a person needs to know."
Rated this article:

Katie Bellile

Jun 25, 2019

"Excellent. Step by step instructions for identification."

Micah M.

Sep 19, 2019

"Simple, easy-to-follow article.

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Date: 01.12.2018, 00:02 / Views: 71434