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Native alternative(s) for Pueraria montana:
Clematis virginiana White four petaled flowers
Lonicera sempervirens Lonicera sempervirens
Parthenocissus quinquefolia wild form - new growth
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Albizia julibrissin Albizia julibrissin
Lonicera maackii Flower Form
Wisteria floribunda Full bloom
Pueraria montana has some common insect problems:
Kudzu Bug
Pueraria montana has some common disease problems:
Asian Soybean Rust

Pueraria montana

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Dolichos montanus
  • Pueraria lobata var. montana
Phonetic Spelling
pew-er RAY-ree-uh mon-TAY-nuh
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina

Kudzu is a semi-woody, twining, aggressive vine that is native to Asia and Northern Australia. It is a member of the Fabaceae or legume family. There are approximately 15 species of kudzus that are native to China, Taiwan, Japan, and India.

The genus, Pueraria, is named in honor of Marc Nicolas Puerari, a Swiss botanist. The species name, montana, is Latin and means "mountains."

Kudzu was introduced in the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. In 1905 Kudzu plants were available and used as forage for livestock. In 1933 the U.S. Soil Conservation Service introduced a variety of Kudzu, Pueraria montana var. lobata, for erosion control and agricultural purposes.  It was planted throughout the south by the Civil Conservation Corps. In the 1950s, the Department of Agriculture would no longer allow Kudzu to be planted. It was labeled a common weed in the 1970s. Kudzu was placed on the noxious weed list by Congress in 1997. It is currently a noxious weed in thirteen states.  Although eradication is not currently feasible, attempts are being made to control this invasive species.

The roots are starchy and tuberous. Some roots can grow to a depth of twelve feet and weigh from 200 to 300 pounds. The vines may grow one foot per day or sixty feet during the summer season. The stems can reach a diameter of 0.5 to 4 inches, but there are reports of stems being ten inches or more. The leaves are compound with 2-3 lobes per leaf. The flowers are small fragrant clusters that bloom from July to September. The fruits are flat hairy seed pods. The plant is propagated by seeds or division of young shoots from the crown. Kudzu can easily overtake other plants from its runners and rhizomes. Plants and trees can be killed by Kudzu due to girdling of stems and trunks and from blocking sunlight. 

Kudzu is found growing over thickets, forests, pastures, and along roadsides. It prefers loamy and well-drained soil. They are drought-tolerant once established. The Kudzu roots have nitrogen-fixing properties by interacting with certain bacteria in the soil. Kudzu can also affect air quality by producing Isoprene.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Kudzu is the host plant for the Asian soybean rust and the Kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria).  Kudzu should not be planted and is an illegal plant in some areas of the United States. Listed as invasive by the NC Invasive plant council. 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Pueraria montana var. lobata, Pueraria montana var. montana, Pueraria var. thomsonii
#invasive#fragrant flowers#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#spreading#seed pods#twining vine#dry soils tolerant#weed
Cultivars / Varieties:
Pueraria montana var. lobata, Pueraria montana var. montana, Pueraria var. thomsonii
#invasive#fragrant flowers#high maintenance#fast growing#aggressive#spreading#seed pods#twining vine#dry soils tolerant#weed
  • Attributes:
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The Kudzu vine is known as Ge Gen in China, and it is one of their fundamental herbs. All portions of the plant, including its starch-rich root, are used as medicine. They are used to treat alcoholism, fever, colds, measles, angina, and dysentery. A fiber from the stems can be used to make ropes and cables. Grasscloth and paper were made from the vines in 1665. The Japanese ground the roots of the plant to make flour. The plant has also been used for erosion control and to add nitrogen to the soil.
    Life Cycle:
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Asia to Northern Australia
    Native: China North-Central, China South-Central, China South-East, Japan, Korea, India, Manchuria, Northern Australia, Philipines, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Vietnam; Introduced: Argentina, Ghana, Honduras, Mozambique, Nigeria, Nova Scotia, Pakistan, Panama, Queensland, Samoa, Sudan, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Zaire, and the United States--AL, AK, FL, GA, IL, KS, KY, LA, MA, MS, NJ, NY, NC, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA;
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees and insects use this plant for pollination. Birds and mammals eat and disperse their seeds.
    Climbing Method:
    The roots may be cooked and used to make into noodles, a thickening agent for soups, or gelatin. The flowers may be cooked or made into pickles. The stems and young leaves are eaten as a vegetable and are very nutritious. The taste is reportedly between a bean and pea.
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Growth Rate:
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    NC Region:
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fruit Type:
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    This plant produces brown, long, elliptic, hairy, flat seedpods that occur after late summer flowering. The fruits are present from October to December. The pods measure 1.5 to 5 inches long and 0.2 to 0.5 inches wide. Each legume may have up to 10 seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are present from July to September. They are purple to reddish-purple, fragrant, and about 1 inch wide. They grow in clusters on a stalk that may be up to 7 inches long.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Leaf Shape:
    Leaf Margin:
    Hairs Present:
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are compound, alternate, and hairy on the upper and lower surfaces. Each leaf has a long petiole and three leaflets. The lateral leaves have two lobes, and the terminal leaves have three lobes.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Bark Description:
    The bark is rough and dark brown.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Stem Description:
    The stems are covered with yellow hairs. The base of the stem is woody. The stems may grow up to 10 inches or more in diameter.
  • Landscape:
    Small Mammals
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Invasive Species