Thursday, 19 August 2010

Kudzu


Pueraria lobata of the family, Fabaceae (the pea family), is a climbing, coiling, trailing vine native to southern Japan and southeast China.  Its common name of "Kudzu" is derived from the Japanese name for the plant, Kuzu.

Kudzu was introduced into the United States in 1876 from Japan and is now common throughout most of the southeastern U.S.  So far, its only known occurrence in Canada was discovered on a south-facing slope on the shore of Lake Erie near Leamington, Ontario in 2009.  Thankfully, our climate is not conducive to its establishment here.  In the southeastern U.S., Kudzu grows so rapidly that it has come to have such nicknames as foot-a-night vine, mile-a-minute vine and the vine-that-ate-the-south!

The story is not all bad, however.  The plant is an effective means of erosion control and also a good means of soil enrichment.  As well, it has been discovered to have a number of medical uses from helping to control addictive cravings to the treatment for certain cancers.  Kudzu has been used in Chinese traditional medicine for centuries.  Since it is so plentiful in the southern U.S., Kudzu is used to make lotions, jellies and compost.  As well, it also makes a nutrient-rich hay although it takes more work than ordinary hay. 
The drawing of the flowers shown at the beginning of this posting might lead you to think that Kudzu is a beautiful flowering vine; however, the leaves are so dense that the flowers are often hidden from view.

Speaking of the flowers, I want to show you the results I achieved by playing around with the colour balance.  As you all know, I love to play with colours and I was delighted with these unusual looking results.



This effect was achieved by reversing the colours and changing everything from the reds and pinks into the cooler shades of purple, mauve and blue.



This second variation was achieved by a process known as solarization -- one of the options found in my funny software that I have explained to you in the past.  I did not find this effect as satisfying as I did the previous effort.

 




In this photo you can see how the flowers actually appear when the leaves are not too dense.  Even though the flowers are visible, they just barely stand out in the midst of all that green.




Here is a perfect example of what southern U.S. roadsides look like in the summer.  The Kudzu vine grows over anything in it path and, in the process, can create some very weird shapes.  To me, this one looks like a giant lady holding a wand in her hand.  Maybe she is the "queen of the Kudzu"!



Here is another example of how Kudzu grows over everything in its path.  It is quite possible that this building will be completely covered before the summer is over.  It is a joke in the southern U.S. that if you leave you truck parked next to Kudzu for too many hours, you may not be able to find it when you return.




Finally, I want to show you the goats.  This is one way of trying to control Kudzu growth.  The goats can eat it just a bit faster than it can grow!  Several places now have programs for grazing goats where Kudzu growth is heaviest.  For example, the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee undertook such a trial program in 2007.  Other southern cities are considering doing the same. 

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This has truly been a posting all about Kudzu.  I hope you found it interesting.  I grew up surrounded by it, seeing it as a nuisance weed -- mainly because it often prevented me from exploring certain areas while riding my horse, Skipper.  The growth would just be too dense and dangerous.  Doing some research on Kudzu for this posting has actually helped me to see that this troublesome vine may one day end up helping us to cure some major illnesses.  That would be a very good thing.

Some of you were asking how the income tax thing was going.  Well, I have collected all the receipts that I could although I have been unable to duplicate everything.  So tomorrow, with the help of my tax guy, I will submit what I have and basically throw myself upon the mercy of Revenue Canada.  At least all this hectic searching for duplicate copies of charitable donation and medical receipts will be over.  Thank goodness for that.

May the peace of God be with you all.

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