'Plant That Ate the South' in Columbiana County - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio


'Plant That Ate the South' in Columbiana County

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© Joe Boggs - OSU Extension © Joe Boggs - OSU Extension
Extent of Kudzu growth in Ohio Extent of Kudzu growth in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Kudzu, which has become known as the "plant that ate the South," is now in fifteen Ohio counties, including Columbiana.

Kudzu grows fast, smothers everything in its path; including trees, buildings and utility poles, and is difficult and expensive to get rid of once established.

Experts with Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences outreach arm, Ohio State University Extension, have created and are distributing a new identification poster featuring the climbing, entwining, engulfing invader.

"Kudzu is in scattered spots in Ohio. One of the reasons for the poster is to get a better idea of where and how much of a problem it is," said Kathy Smith, director of OSU Extension's Ohio Woodland Stewards Program. "We're hoping to raise awareness of kudzu specifically and of invasive species in general."

Considered a significant invasive species, kudzu has been reported mostly in the southeast part of the state but also in Columbiana, Summit and Cuyahoga counties, according to the national Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System.

In all, kudzu covers an estimated 8 million acres of land in the U.S., mostly in the Southeast, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

One estimate puts the weed's cost in the U.S. at more than $500 million a year when counting both control efforts and lost forest productivity.

There's also concern that another damaging invasive species, the kudzu bug, may follow the plant to Ohio.

Already widespread in the South, the aptly named kudzu bug feeds on kudzu but also on soybeans, whose annual positive economic impact in Ohio is more than $5 billion, according to the Ohio Soybean Council.

And like the annoying, invasive multicolored Asian lady beetle, which it resembles in size, the kudzu bug swarms on and invades people's homes in fall, seeking a place to spend winter.

Fortunately, the kudzu bug hasn't reached Ohio yet, Smith said.

The new kudzu awareness poster is available free from the Ohio Woodland Stewards Program, ohiowoods@osu.edu, 614-688-3421.

Ohioans can report kudzu using the free Great Lakes Early Detection Network (GLEDN) smart phone app. Early detection usually leads to better and cheaper control.

The app can be downloaded by following this link.


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