Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.
They call it the “vine that ate the south” but tonight I’m going to show that the south just might be able to extract a little revenge. Now because invasive species is a bit of a sensitive topic in some circles I want to be clear that I am definitely not advocating for anyone to introduce this pest into their landscape. To do so is definitely going to cause harm and us most likely illegal. However, if you’re already fighting this monster then there are definitely some uses for it.
Kudzu was actually brought to North America on purpose in 1876 as an ornamental, for erosion control and as a foraging crop. The government of the first half of the 20th century was actually paying people to plant Kudzu because it was hard to establish. There was even a Kudzu Club of America by 1943 that was founded by a journalist named Channing Cope. But by the 1950s the invasion was well underway and damage to large stands of forest was causing losses to the timber industry. The full account is really worth looking into.
Kudzu was actually a well appreciated resource in Asia. The stem of the vine was used for paper and textiles. The stem isn’t really edible and neither are the seeds but almost every other part of the plant is.
The vines can be woody and they are covered in little hairs which in the words of Green Dean gives it some “texture issues.” But the leaves themselves can be used like Spinach, cooked like colards and finely chopped to be added to a variety of dishes.
The flowers smell like grapes! They’re often candied by crystallizing them with sugar or used in jelly or syrup.
There are different varieties. I believe that the variety I have here is Pueraria thomsonii and produces an edible tuber. In very mature stands of kudzu that tuberous root can be up to 300 pounds. The root is very starchy and can be made into a gluten free flour for baking. On a side note here, James A Duke of the Peterson Field Guides states that kudzu root doesn’t mix well with alcohol and even suggests that it might be used to treat alcoholism through gastric distress. He believes that the experience is so uncomfortable that it makes the consumption of alcohol too unpleasant to desire.
The Chinese agree with Dr. Duke. They’ve used it to treat alcoholism for thousands of years. They also use kudzu for treating diabetes, menopause, neck and eye pain as well as the common cold. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center seems to indicate that strong anti-inflammatory components in kudzu are the secret to it’s medicinal values. I’ve included the link above because there are some situations where kudzu can do more harm than good so please take a look at the warnings they offer.
Before closing I do want to restate that this plant should never be propagated. In spite of being a member of the bean family and being really good at fixing nitrogen in the soil the environmental damage it does is just not worth the risk. Especially when it’s already so plentiful. It’s so invasive that even just accidentally dropping a piece of the vine in the wrong spot could result in the loss of a piece of habitat.
That’s it for tonight’s #foragefriday. Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
For those who have been following me on Facebook and know of the struggle content providers have to get circulation from big tech I’ve been recommending for people to adopt MeWe as a social media platform. One of the problems I’ve run into on MeWe is that people don’t know how to navigate the platform. So to help with that I’ve created a permanent page on my website as a basic Basic Beginner’s Guide To MeWe I’ve tried to anticipate all basic questions there and You can bookmark the page to have as a reference and if you have any questions or suggestions don’t hesitate to contact me. I do still have a day job and I help admin several pages on both platforms so replies might be a little slow but I will answer you.
We also have the Lloyd’s Lens Photography Discussion Group on MeWe that is set up as a fully functional community. There you’ll not only be able to see and connect with me but you can also make your own posts and interact with each other.
I want you to join my group on MeWe: https://mewe.com/join/lloydslensphotographydiscussiongroup
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