Weed pulling is a year-round chore in South Louisiana. “The vine that ate the South” is the kudzu plant, native to Asia and introduced to the United States in the 19th century. As noted in a previous column, the vine was classified as a pest weed by the Department of Agriculture 50 years ago.
In addition to being a nuisance, scientists determined it aids in the formation of low-level ozone. Researchers compared kudzu growth in Georgia to regions where it was absent, noting that the kudzu sections held twice as much nitric oxide emissions. When nitric oxide interacts with sunlight, ozone or photochemical smog occurs.
The National Academy of Science revealed that kudzu covers 7.9 million acres in the Southeast, spreading 124,000 acres each year.