kudzu ko͝od´zo͞o [key], plant of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), native to Japan. Kudzu (Pueraria thunbergiana) has a woody stem, broad leaves, and clusters of large purple flowers. It is used as a cover crop, for pasturage and hay, and for controlling soil erosion; in Asia, it is cultivated for its edible tubers and hemplike fiber. It was introduced in the United States c.1876 as a decorative vine. Later promoted for erosion control, its rank growth on roadsides, rail embankments, and forest edges in the South earned it a reputation (due in part to overestimates of its spread) as a noxious weed. Kudzu is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Plants