Kudzu: noun: a fast-growing vine from eastern Asia having hairy trifoliate leaves and racemes of purple flowers followed by long many-seed hairy pods and tuberous starchy roots; grown for fodder and forage and root starch; widespread in the southern United States.
Anyone who’s lived for any period of time here in the South knows what kudzu is — it’s usually the only thing that stays green in summer time when it’s 100 degrees in the shade, 100% humidity, and the pavement in front of your house has been reduced to a sticky black sludge. It’s the only weed that weed-killer won’t kill, but that the county still insists on spraying every other week.
It’s currently the only thing that grows around my house besides those damned mimosa trees. ;P
hehehe … Jim’s mom had found a use for it a couple of summers ago: on one of her many camping excursions, she was taught by a park ranger how to collect, dry and weave kudzu vines into practically any shape. One of her hobbies is making some really awesome wreaths out of them. (I’m hoping to learn how to do this this summer!)
Apparently kudzu has many other uses. People have been eating this stuff for years (no kidding!). I ran across this article on Slashfood:
You Southerners out there know about kudzu, but many of the rest of us have never heard of the stuff. It’s an ornamental vine imported from Asia generations ago, in the 1930’s to be precise, which has taken over many areas of the South. It has actually earned the nickname “the vine that ate the South.” It overwhelms wherever it grows and covers up trees, homes, cars, telephone poles, and more.
Did you know it was also edible? I had heard this was so a few years ago, but since this was after I had finished my several year sojourn in rural Georgia I haven’t had the chance to try it. I’ve wanted to quite a bit since one of my favorite hobbies is foraging for wild edible and medicinal plants.
I just read a great little article on eating kudzu. Kudzu is related to the pea and can be prepared in many ways. The young shoots are tender and tasty. They can be used in salads and cooked as greens like spinach. The young leaves can be treated like collard greens, the flowers can be used to make great jellies, and mature leaves can be fried like potato chips to make a crispy and tasty snack.
Honey that bees make from kudzu is exceptionally sweet and tasty. The root can be dried and powdered and then used as a thickener for soups and stews as you would cornstarch or gumbo file powder. This root powder supposedly has medicinal properties. (Martha Stewart lists it as a hangover helper.)
There are tons of ways to prepare kudzu and many people who swear by it. Which is better than those who are trying to remove it from their property. Those folks tend to just swear AT it.
And here I thought this stuff was only good at getting in the way. :)