Monday, October 15, 2012

Kudzu Reaches Northern Ohio

By Mary Beth Breckenridge
Beacon Journal staff writer

Kudzu has been called the vine that ate the South. Now it’s the North’s turn to struggle with it.

Workers in South Carolina try to remove the invasive plant kudzu. Kudza has been confirmed in Summit, Portage and Cuyahoga counties. (MCT File Photo)
Kudzu has reached our area [northern Ohio], with patches reported in Summit, Portage and Cuyahoga counties, said Kathy Smith, Ohio State University Extension program director in forestry. In fact, it’s been found as far north on our continent as Ontario and British Columbia. ...

That doesn’t necessarily mean the aggressive vine will soon drape our hillsides and choke our trees. It’s believed the growing season in Northern Ohio is too short to allow the plant to flower and produce fruit here, which keeps kudzu from spreading rampantly.

But that could change, said James Bissell, curator of botany at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. The changing climate is warming our winters and stretching our growing season. Eventually the conditions could become ripe for kudzu to flourish in our area. “With global climate change, it could be a problem,” said Bissell, who tracks the distribution of plants in Ohio. “I expect it will be a problem.” ...

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