It is called "the vine that ate the south," although its common name is kudzu, This invasive species is well known in the deep south, but now it has a nice toehold in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports kudzu can now be found in ten counties, including Jackson, St. Louis, Howard, Christian, Wayne, Reynolds, Douglas, Lawrence, Ralls, Taney and Newton.

It is called "the vine that ate the south," although its common name is kudzu, This invasive species is well known in the deep south, but now it has a nice toehold in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reports kudzu can now be found in ten counties, including Jackson, St. Louis, Howard, Christian, Wayne, Reynolds, Douglas, Lawrence, Ralls, Taney and Newton.
For years, kudzu could be easily seen in Newton County along old Highway 71 (now Highway 175) just south of Joplin. But it can currently be seen spreading to other areas.
Kudzu is a fast growing vine that overtakes everything in its path. It can cover an electric pole or even a barn in short order. Roots can extend 13 feet into the ground and a single vine can grow to 100 feet.
 One man in Atlanta, GA, recalled finding kudzu vines in his backyard one morning, having crept under a board fence. He cut the vines off with a hoe, but the next morning he found them back in his yard.
A native of Asia, kudzu was brought to America in an effort to fight soil erosion, but almost immediately was out of control. The vines were uncontrollable and quickly smothered the surrounding vegetation. They was soon covering shrubs and trees, even uprooting entire trees with their weight. The vines can pull down power lines and flatten buildings. During the growing season, kudzu grows about a foot each day.
Kudzu is difficult to kill. Efforts to destroy the vine include cutting, grazing, applying herbicides, disking, or burning. But destroying the plant requires persistence. Neighboring landowners who have it on their lands must all participate in the eradication program. Otherwise, it spreads, having no respect for property lines.
In certain situations, cattle grazing is an eradication option and one that is more economical. Vines have to be heavily grazed for 3 or 4 years and then it should be treated by a herbicide.
The MDC has studied the spread of kudzu in Missouri and has brochures to help landowners rid their land of this vicious vine.
The kudzu that has long been on Highway 71, or Gateway Drive, is still there but the vines are showing up in other areas and are sure to spread even farther.