Invasive Species: Plants: Kudzu [pdf]
Kudzu-Goat Interactions [pdf]
James Dickey: Kudzu
"Ode to Billy Goats" [Quick Time]
In his time, Benjamin Franklin once observed, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." Had he visited certain parts of the American South in the early 21st century, he might have added "kudzu", effectively completing that troika. This very fast growing vine has spread with amazing speed since its introduction to the United States in 1876, via the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. For decades it was used as an ornamental, but by the 1950s the plant was a ubiquitous part of the landscape in Mississippi, Alabama and other parts of the South. Recently, the city of Chattanooga has decided to enlist a new partner in the ongoing horticultural battle with this noxious weed: goats. The city's public works department decided to allow the goats free reign over a prominent ridge in town that is covered in kudzu, and so far, the results have been encouraging. Of course, things haven't been easy, and there is the "laugh factor" that was recently mentioned by a city forestry inspector, Jerry Jeansonne. Similar programs are also underway in the cities of Tallahassee and Spartanburg, South Carolina, though it remains to be seen whether or not this program can be duplicated on a wider scale.
The first link will take users to a New York Times article which talks about the use of goats to control the kudzu of Chattanooga. Moving on, the second link leads to a very thorough website offered by the United States Department of Agriculture's National Invasive Species Information Center. Here, visitors can learn about kudzu and the ongoing efforts to control this very hearty species. The third link leads to an important 1992 study that investigated the potential to control kudzu with the use of goats. The fourth link will take users to James Dickey's compelling poem on this very prolific vine. The fifth link leads to a number of creative recipes from one Jane Linton that make use of kudzu in such delights as kudzu blossom jelly and apple cider. Finally, the last link will take users to a recent musical number recorded in tribute to the hard-working goats of Chattanooga.
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