Kudzu's Adaptation in Nature
Evolution tells us that all living species are descendents of ancestral species that have become modified as natural selection adapts populations to their environments. This modification process results in unique characteristics that allow organisms to be successful in a specific habitat. An organism that is perfectly adapted to where it lives and what it does is the Kudzu of the Southeastern United States. Kudzu is a very fast and very long growing vine that has large leaves and long racemes with late-blooming reddish purple flowers. Kudzu also has flat hairy seed pods. It has been long grown in both Japan and China for its edible starchy roots, and it is also used for the fiber made from its stems. It was first introduced during the100th birthday celebration to the United States in 1876 by the Japanese government as part of a garden of their native plants. It was most appealing to Americans because of its sweet-smelling blooms and quickly became in high demand for ornamental purposes. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, kudzu was highly promoted as food for animals and also for its help with erosion control in the Southeastern part of the United States. Farmers were paid an incentive to plant fields of the vines in the 1940s. The problem with that is, that no one knew that they vines grew so well. The year round warm climate of the South was the perfect conditions for the growth of Kudzu. Even more so that its native lands because the pesky insects that usually attacks it there didn’t make the overseas trip. It didn’t take long before the kudzu covered everything it came in contact with. With a growing rate of over a foot a day during the summer months, it quickly covered trees, power poles, and most anything else that it came in contact with. Since Kudzu was so plentiful and grew so well, locals from all over the South began to figure out uses for it. Basket makers found that the rubber-like vines were so versatile that...
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