Pueraria montana - (Lour.) Merr.
Kudzu
Other English Common Names: Japanese arrowroot
Other Common Names: kudzu
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Pueraria montana (Lour.) Merr. (TSN 504683)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.135319
Element Code: PDFAB3E030
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Pea Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fabales Fabaceae Pueraria
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Pueraria montana
Taxonomic Comments: The kudzu that is escaped widely in North America is called Pueraria lobata or Pueraria thunbergiana in most North American literature; Kartesz (1994 checklist and 1999 floristic synthesis) treats these plants as Pueraria montana var. lobata. No other varieties of Pueraria montana are reported from North America. LEM 3Jul95 and 30Jul02.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (19Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arkansas (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (SNA), Florida (SNA), Georgia (SNR), Hawaii (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), New Jersey (SNA), New York (SNA), North Carolina (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), South Carolina (SNA), Tennessee (SNA), Texas (SNA), Virginia (SNA), West Virginia (SNA)
Canada Ontario (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ALexotic, ARexotic, CTexotic, DCexotic, DEexotic, FLexotic, GA, HIexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, KSexotic, KYexotic, LAexotic, MA, MDexotic, MOexotic, MSexotic, NCexotic, NJexotic, NYexotic, OHexotic, PAexotic, SCexotic, TNexotic, TXexotic, VAexotic, WVexotic
Canada ONexotic

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MO Bollinger (29017), Boone (29019)*, Butler (29023), Cape Girardeau (29031), Carter (29035), Douglas (29067), Dunklin (29069), Gasconade (29073), Howard (29089), Howell (29091), Jackson (29095), Jasper (29097), Lawrence (29109)*, Madison (29123), Marion (29127)*, McDonald (29119), Newton (29145), Oregon (29149), Pulaski (29169), Ralls (29173)*, Reynolds (29179), Ripley (29181), Scott (29201), St. Charles (29183), St. Louis (29189), Stoddard (29207), Stone (29209), Wayne (29223)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
07 North Fabius (07110002)+*, The Sny (07110004)+*, Cahokia-Joachim (07140101)+, Meramec (07140102)+, Upper Mississippi-Cape Girardeau (07140105)+, Whitewater (07140107)+
08 Upper St. Francis (08020202)+, Lower St. Francis (08020203)+, Little River Ditches (08020204)+
10 Big Piney (10290202)+, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+, Lower Missouri-Moreau (10300102)+, Lower Missouri (10300200)+
11 Bull Shoals Lake (11010003)+, North Fork White (11010006)+, Upper Black (11010007)+, Current (11010008)+, Spring (11010010)+, Eleven Point (11010011)+, Spring (11070207)+, Elk (11070208)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: This species is notorious for forming dense canopies that smother and shade out all vegetation underneath it. It also fixes nitrogen, and therefore may alter nutrient dynamics. Although widespread throughout the southeastern U.S., and also found in parts of the Northeast and in Hawaii, kudzu is rarely significant in areas of high conservation value. It is typically, but not exclusively, found in low-quality disturbed areas, such as roadsides and abandoned fields. Its impacts in natural riparian areas, forest edges, and its ability to spread into areas such as the Everglades should continue to be monitored. Kudzu's ability to spread is currently somewhat limited by lack of pollinators. This species is very hard to manage, but repeated herbicide application or mechanical controls can control it.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: High
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Medium/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 28Mar2004
Evaluator: Lu, S.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to southeastern Asia from India, China, and Japan, perhaps also Malesia (Starr et al. 1999).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invades natural areas in Florida (Langeland and Craddock Burks 1998).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Fixes nitrogen (Weber 2003).

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:High significance
Comments: Forms mats that may be more than 2 m thick (Weber 2003). Blankets trees with a dense canopy through which little light can penetrate (Van Driesche et al. 2002).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High significance
Comments: Can quickly cover shrubs and trees with a dense tangle of stems, smothering and shading out the other vegetation. Able to smother trees up to 35 m tall. (Weber 2003) Kills or degrades other plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, girdling woody stems and tree trunks, and breaking branches or uprooting entire trees and shrubs through the sheer force of its weight (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No reported impacts.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Low significance
Comments: Usually inhabits low quality disturbed areas, such as forest edges, abandoned fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas where sunlight is abundant (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997). It is found in many old, collapsed southern homesteads, in ravines, in former cotton fields and pasture lands (Van Driesche et al. 2002), agricultural areas, disturbed areas, planted forests, and urban areas (ISSG 2004). However, it also impacts natural riparian areas, natural forests, range/grasslands, scrub/shrublands (ISSG 2004).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: High

6. Current Range Size in Nation:High significance
Comments: Common throughout the southeastern US and has been found as far north as Pennsylvania (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997). Rarely occurs in the northeastern US, but is occasionally found from Connecticut to Illinois. (Van Driesche et al. 2002) Estimated to infest at least two million acres in the eastern US (ISSG 2004). Recently found in southern Florida where it has begun to invade the Everglades (VNPS and VDCR 2003).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High significance
Comments: The most severe infestations occur in the piedmont regions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia (Van Driesche et al. 2002). Extremely invasive in the southeastern US (Starr et al. 1999). Recently found in South Florida where it has begun to invade the Everglades (VNPS and VDCR 2003).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:High significance
Comments: Established in at least 35 TNC ecoregions (Inference using data from Kartesz 1999 and TNC Ecoregion 2001 map).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Invades riparian habitats, forest edges, and woodland (Weber 2003). Preferred habitats include forest edges, abandoned fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas where sunlight is abundant (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997). Found in many old, collapsed southern homesteads, in ravines, in former cotton fields and pasture lands (Van Driesche et al. 2002). Infests natural forests, range/grasslands, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, agricultural areas, disturbed areas, planted forests, and urban areas (ISSG 2004).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Most spread is slow (Van Driesche et al. 2002). Introduced into the US in 1976, planted by farmers to control erosion from 1935 to the mid-1950s, and the Civilian Conservation Corps planted it widely for many years. USDA recognized this plant as a pest weed in 1953 and removed it from its list of permissable cover plants. (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997) Kudzu colonies in southern Illinois were found producing large numbers of viable seed in the summer of 1997. If kudzu begin to seed more often, it could begin to spread much more rapidly (Starr et al. 1999).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:Low significance
Comments: May spread further in New England (Mehrhoff et al. 2003). Grows well under a wide range of conditions and in most soil types. Grows best where winters are mild, summer temperatures are above 80 degrees F, and annual rainfall is 40 inches or more. (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997) Inhabits temperate zones or higher altitudes in the tropics, and can be found growing in almost all eco-types from the dryest flatwoods to the margins of permanent bodies of water, but not in periodically flooded soils (ISSG 2004).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals (Weber 2003). Slow spread through local movement of infested soil (Van Driesche et al. 2002). Long-distance dispersal mechanisms include internet sales and road vehicles, while local dispersal includes translocation of machinery, road vehicles, digest/excretion, and water currents (ISSG 2004).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Moderate significance
Comments: Recently found in southern Florida where it has begun to invade the Everglades (VNPS and VDCR 2003). In Maui, should kudzu begin to set seed, it could begin to spread much more rapidly (Starr et al. 1999).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Moderate significance
Comments: Mostly invades habitats with disturbance. Invades riparian habitats, forest edges, and woodland (Weber 2003). Preferred habitats include forest edges, abandoned fields, roadsides, and disturbed areas where sunlight is abundant (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997). Because it was formerly planted as an ornamental and for erosion control, it is now found in many old, collapsed southern homesteads, and in ravines (Van Driesche et al. 2002). Infests natural forests, range/grasslands, riparian zones, scrub/shrublands, agricultural areas, disturbed areas, planted forests, and urban areas (ISSG 2004).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:High/Low significance
Comments: Invasive in southern Europe, southern Africa, and Mexico (Weber 2003). Established as a non-native in Australia, South America, and Switzerland, however only considered a serious pest in the US (Van Driesche et al. 2002).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High significance
Comments: Fast-growing, stems easily root at nodes, resprouts when cut (Weber 2003). Grows rapidly (about one foot a day), spreads mainly by vegetative growth, but does have some seed spread in areas where a pollinator, the giant resin bee, occurs. (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997; Swearingen et al. 2002) Seeds are low in viability (ISSG 2004). Kudzu colonies in southern Illinois were found producing large numbers of viable seed in the summer of 1997 (Starr et al. 1999).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Medium/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Moderate significance
Comments: Once established, this plant is difficult to control. Control includes grazing by goats, persistent weeding or mowing, and chemical control. (Weber 2003) To control this species, the extensive root system must be destroyed and no root crowns left. This can be accomplished through using systemic herbicides, cutting vines, or close mowing every month for two growing seasons (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997; Swearingen et al. 2002). Also can be controlled by flaming to defoliate the plant (Starr et al. 1999).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Can take up to ten years to control well-established stands of this plant. Herbicide use can take up to five years to control this plant. (VNPS and VDCR 2003). Close mowing every month for two growing seasons can also control this plant (Bergmann and Swearingen 1997).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Glyphosphate is the recommended herbicide to control kudzu, however it is non-selective and may harm native plants if not applied carefully (VNPS and VDCR 2003).

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Difficult access in some areas.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Bergmann, C. and J.M. Swearingen. 1997. Kudzu - Pueraria montana var. lobata. Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group (PCA APWG) Weeds Gone Wild Factsheets. Available: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact/pulo1.htm. (Accessed 2004).

  • Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). 2004. Global Invasive Species Database. Online. Available: http://www.issg.org/database (accessed 2004).

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Langeland, K.A. and K.C. Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. University of Florida. 165 pp. [http://aquat1.ifas.ufl.edu/identif.html]

  • Lindgren, C.J., K.L. Castro, H.A. Coiner, R.E. Nurse, and S.J. Darbyshire. 2013. The Biology of Invasive Alien Plants in Canada. 12. Pueraria montana var. lobata (Willd.) Sanjappa & Predeep. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 93: 71 -95.

  • Mehrhoff, L.J., J.A. Silander, Jr., S.A. Leicht and E. Mosher. 2003. IPANE: Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT. Online. Available: http://invasives.eeb.uconn.edu/ipane/.

  • Starr, F. K. Martz, and L. Loope. 1999. Kudzu - Pueraria lobata: an alien plant report. USGS Biological Resources Division. Available: http://www.hear.org/species/reports/puelob_fskm_awwa_report.pdf. (Accessed 2004).

  • Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker. 2002. Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas. National Park Service and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 82 pp.

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • Van Driesche, R., S. Lyon, B. Blossey, M. Hoddle, and R. Reardon. 2002. Biological control of invasive plants in the eastern United States. USDA Forest Service Publication FHTET-2002-04. Available: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/biocontrol/. (Accessed 2004).

  • Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) and Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR). 2003. September-last update. List of invasive alien plant species of Virginia. Available: http://www.vnps.org/invasive.html.

  • Waldron, G.E., and B.M.H.Larson. 2012. Kudzu Vine, Pueraria montana, adventive in southern Ontario. Canadian
    Field-Naturalist 126(1): 31-33.

  • Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI Publishing, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 548 pp.

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