Look for ways to turn kudzu vines into kudzu crafts — such as this lovely, free-form handmade kudzu basket.
PHOTO: SARAH HITCHNER
Here in Georgia, we have to keep the windows closed at night to keep the kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata) out. Most everyone in this part of the country knows it can grow a foot a day and that “the vine that ate the South” (imported to the United States from Japan in 1876) can strangle everything from peach trees to barns.
But what you may not know is how to use kudzu in its many forms: kudzu blossoms can be made into fine jelly, wine, tea, and syrup, and its leaves and young shoots can be boiled like spinach (or made into paper). The woody kudzu vines, which curl naturally, also can be used to make unique kudzu baskets and kudzu crafts such as wreaths, flower pots, and cornucopias. It’s easy to work with when freshly harvested — perfect for novices and children. And where you find a little, you find a lot! So feel free to experiment with your own styles. I’m not a basketmaking expert, but the one I made nine years ago is still going strong.
Tip: If kudzu threatens to take over your property, know that goats eat the leaves and pigs eat the roots. They will do a better job taking on your kudzu than most herbicides would.