Tuesday, May 3, 2011

California Kudzu

Paulie Paul stalking the wild bag

As I lie here in bed, Paulie Paul is sleeping on my chest as I type, making breathing a little more difficult than it should be.    I am tired from the day.  I tried to work in the garden, you see, and it is a lost cause.

Now, I love a beautiful garden but I do not enjoy working in it.  So my garden is full of foxtails and jump-weed, and, of course, overgrown with California Kudzu.  Now, I don't think that is actually the name for this plant.  In fact I'm pretty sure it's not, but It acts so much like Kudzu that I cannot think of a better name.

The woman who owned this place before was at a friends house when she saw a beautiful, trailing, vine-like plant with lovely blue trumpet-like flowers.  Without telling her friend, she broke off a piece about a foot long and tucked it into her purse.  When she got home, she put the plant in water and later planted it in the back yard.

What she did not know was that this plant grows at an astounding rate, sometimes as much as a foot a day. And it likes to take over.  And so the plant, thinking it had permission to grow wildly, chose to do just that.  It grew.  And it grew.  And it grew some more.

Allow me to tell you about my home.  It is a mobile home, 16 by 45 feet.  It has a long covered porch on one side and a yard on three sides.   The yard is edged with a concrete block fence about six feet high.   It has a lovely Crape Myrtle and a bougainvillea, plus roses and peace lillys and assorted other flowers I don't know the name of.  They were all here when I moved in.

The kudzu was also here when I moved in.  A Lot of Kudzu.  It had grown from one side of the house to the other.  It had taken rooted under the mobile home and decided to say 'Hi;, by growing inside the house.  It found tiny not-seeable-with-the-human-eye cracks and grew sneakily.  It peeked out to me from the corner of the closet, It grew behind my big bookshelf.  It grew up in my kitchen cabinets.  Once it even grew up next to the dog bowls and started exploring the cans of cat food on the shelves.

When I moved in, you could not see the porch from outside, because the porch had a foot-deep curtain of Kudzu running the entire length of it.

Worst of all, it was killing all of the other plants.  The tree was almost buried in it, the bushes were dwarfed by it and the flowers on the ground never had a chance.

I had no choice: I declared war.  

Whenever I would find the kudzu, I would rip it out, ruthlessly -- totally without ruth!  I would growl at it.  I went outside and started ripping it up and after a while I had so much of it that I had to rake it into a pile, but it was not even a start at clearing out the plant.  I used poison (Which I HATE to do), I spent far too much money hiring a guy to take the Kudzu off my walls where it was more than a foot deep.  He worked for a solid two weeks and still he didn't finish getting rid of all of it (and he was a very good worker, too).  He took two truckloads of it to the dump and still had a huge pile of it in my yard.

I ran out of money to pay him so I asked a few friends to come and help clear it out.  A I remember, 7 people showed up.  We worked for a long, long time and got the kudzu off the porch and off the concrete walls, but it was still growing in the tree and on the bushes.  We put the kudzu in a pile so we could load it into more pick-up trucks to take to the dump.    Here is a picture of some of us with the Kudzu pile.  This picture was taken after two loads had already gone to the dump.

It was the best we could do.  We didn't get it all, but we did get all that we could reach.

All of this took place last year.   This spring, as soon as the weather allowed, the kudzu started a come-back.  So I am trying to clear it out before it gets away from me, before it finishes killing my trees and bushes.

I won't win.  I know that.  But I feel morally obligated to try and save the other plants.  They depend on me.  So today I went out and started pulling it up.  I make a small pile and uncovered two rose bushes.  It will grow back before I can tackle it again.  Sigh.

Anyway, I drew a picture of it with colored pencils some time ago. (The picture is below)  Actually, it is not the same as the drawing, but it is very close.  I liked drawing it, but I don't want to live with it.

If any of you would like some Kudzu, it's free.  It's pretty too, with lots of blue flowers.   Just come to my place and help yourself.


  1. Fight the good fight, kiddo! And may you lack all the ruth necessary! *G*

  2. Calystegia sepium, a subcosmopolitan species also called hedge bindweed.
    My dear Byrd,
    I think your plant is called wild morning glory or Bindweed. Farmers hate it with a passion. It will ruin a good field very quickly. I remember hearing about the work party. I did not attend, I would have loved the "Party" part, but working in the plants would have made me unwell.

  3. It is pretty, but insidious, it is terrible when it gets in my room.