Plant friends and foes

Kudzu in Beverly Shores

Terry Bonace

Kudzu leaves

Many of you have heard of kudzu. This choking woody vine has a very bad reputation throughout the southern United States, where it grows along roadsides and swallows vacant lots. To our surprise, this invasive plant has made an appearance here in Beverly Shores. Indeed, ERG’s kudzu siting is the first recorded kudzu siting in Porter County. The Beverly Shores ERG, with great cooperation from the owner of the property where it has been discovered as well as from the owner of a neighboring lot, has successfully attacked the new colony. But we can expect more outbreaks in the future. Please be alert for its appearance. If you see this vine in your property, please let us know. We would very much like to contain what appears to be the latest assault on our natural environment. Milder winters may allow this southern species to thrive here. One thriving population is already known in Evanston, Illinois

Recognizing kudzu is not overly difficult. The vine has three lobed leaflets, resembling a very large poison ivy plant in shape and leaf arrangement. Like poison ivy, the leaves occur alternately on the stem (as opposed to in pairs on the stem). However, kudzu leaves have a larger length of stem between each leaf. In addition to being larger and more widely spaced apart than poison ivy, the leaves are soft and slightly fuzzy. The vines can reach to the tree canopy and become woody. Flowers appear in pink spikes, resembling peas, as in a green bean or sweet pea. Kudzu bears pea-like pods that are about 2 inches in length

Kudzu has been in Indiana for some time as was observed in our neighboring counties, LaPorte and Stark, at least a decade ago. You can find more information on a fact sheet from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources website as well as an InDNR list of resources.

If you have a vine like this in your yard, please let us know. The Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group is anxious to help you get rid of it before it can become well established and spread. Contact Terry Bonace (tbonace@gmail.com), Candice Smith (cmsmith2@umail.iu.edu), or Bill Schaudt (blschaudt2@gmail.com) for assistance.

Beverly Shores Environmental Restoration Group,
P.O. Box 667, Beverly Shores, IN 46301