Kudzu: a Foreign Enemy

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Kudzu was first introduced to the United States in 1876. It was discovered that animals would use the plant for forage and was later used as cattle fodder. Additionally, kudzu was found to be a great tool for erosion control due to its strong root system. The plant also helps fix the nitrogen content in the soil. Kudzu also contains several medical chemicals, daidzen and genistein, which fight inflammation, infections, cancer, and promote estrous cycles. Although kudzu seemed like a wonder plant, the introduction of kudzu has led to many unforeseen consequences.

One unforeseen consequence stemming from the introduction of Kudzu was its effect on the timber industry. Kudzu vines destroy entire forests "by preventing trees from getting sunlight" (Shores, 2000). Due to the destruction of valuable forests, kudzu has left a big dent in the timber industry that depends on forests to survive. Forest economist Coleman Dangerfield estimates that for every acre of timber that kudzu overtakes, landowners lose $48 per acre per year (How Stuff Works, 2011). Georgia, a state with the second biggest logging industry, had been hit the hardest by this foreign killer. The state of Georgia relies heavily on logging to keep their economy stable. Preventing this plant from spreading is vital to keeping valuable forests alive.

Another unforeseen consequence was its impact on our ecosystem. Kudzu kills our source of oxygen by eradicating plants and trees. The foreign killer accomplishes this task by smothering plants under a solid blanket of leaves, girdling woody stems and tree trunks, and by uprooting entire trees and shrubs through the sheer force of its weight. The foreign plant thrives in its new environment and has easily outcompeted native plants and brush, which in turn damages vital food and habitat resources for wildlife. Once it has established a root system, kudzu grows rapidly, reaching as much as sixty feet per season at a rate of one foot per day. Kudzu has...
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