Fast-growing, twining, perennial, woody vine (Pueraria lobata, or P. thunbergiana) belonging to the pea family (see legume). Transplanted from its native China and Japan to North America in the 1870s as an attractive ornamental that could be planted on steep soil banks to prevent erosion, kudzu has become a rampant weed in much of the southeastern U.S, where it readily spreads to form great canopies over trees, shrubs, and exposed soil. Roots survive even northern winters, and the hairy vine grows to a length of 60 ft (18 m) in one season. It has large leaves, late-blooming reddish-purple flowers, and flat, hairy seedpods. In its native range kudzu is grown for its edible, starchy roots and for a fiber made from its stems. It is also useful as a fodder or cover crop.
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