Spending decades in the Washington, D.C., area, I saw kudzu draped over trees and telephone lines, and invading my backyard. Kudzu to me was the Frankenstein’s monster of the pea family, a vine that seemed to grow an inch every second. I had nothing good to say about kudzu, which is native to Japan and parts of China. But there’s more to kudzu than I thought. We use kudzu to treat alcoholism, migraines, vertigo, and other ailments. It’s been used as fodder, in soil conservation, and basketry. It’s brewed as a tea and made into jelly. And whose fault is it that kudzu has taken over so much of the southeastern U.S? Don’t blame the plant.

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