LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, July 18, 2011

I Don't Think it was THAT Vine

Like children everywhere, children in the South look at clouds to see formations of animals, boats, trees, and people.  But the children in the South have another place to look for these formations.  A vine known as Kudzu grows aggressively across the southern United States.  It envelopes anything in its path and seems to prefer utility poles.  Without fail, every single year someone sees a formation of Jesus or the Virgin Mary in the kudzu.

This year's Kudzu Jesus is found in Kinston, NC.  It is an image of Jesus on the cross.  [I know that Jesus said he was "the vine" and we are the branches but I honestly don't think he meant kudzu.  And to tell the truth I have seen better images of Jesus in kudzu.]  Nonetheless, people are driving from miles away to view the Kudzu Jesus.

Photograph from the Asheville Citizen-Times


A landowner near Kinston was about to spray the vine with a herbicide when he noticed the resemblance.  As he said, "You can't spray Jesus with Round-up."

The Japanese brought Kudzu (pueraria lobata) to the United States for the Centennial Exposition in 1876 to honor our Nation's 100th birthday.  It seemed to be a perfect plant and the growing conditions in Southeastern United States were perfect.  What could be better for soil erosion?  And for animal feed?

The Civilian Conservation Corps workers planted thousands upon thousands of acres of kudzu along the roadsides.  Kudzu plants were sold through the mail so farmers and others could plant their own.  What a great vine!  Well, there was one little problem...kudzu grows better than anyone dreamed.  It can grow as much as a foot a day during the summer months.  Spread by runners, the vine overtakes anything in its way.  It also spreads by seeds which can lie dormant for years before they burst forth to take over the landscape.

Kudzu is so widespread that controlling it is almost impossible.  Utility companies spend millions each year repairing damage done by kudzu.  Goat farmers lease their goats to eat the kudzu in certain areas.  Some enterprising folks make baskets and other artwork from kudzu.  While there are some uses for kudzu, the supply will always exceed demand and the South will continue to struggle against the "vine that ate the South."

21 comments:

George said...

I must admit that I don't see Jesus on the cross in that picture, but perhaps I'm just not spiritual enough. You sure are correct, though, about the 'vine that ate the south'. We have plenty of it around here.

The Bug said...

Mike & I used to say that we'd better enjoy driving down this road because next time we come through it'll be entirely overtaken by kudzu :) That's one thing I don't miss about home. Well, I miss it a little bit.

Ms. A said...

As big a problems as it can be, at least it's green and pleasing to view.

Cheryl said...

Well, I consider I have a wonderful imagination but have to say, truthfully, I do not see Jesus on the cross in that image.

Non native plants can become somewhat of a pest. We have huge problems with many plants that the Victorians bought into their gardens. They have escaped from gardens and now frequent many areas. Our natives wildflowers are suffering as a result.

KGMom said...

Well, lordy lordy--will ya look at that.
I do love your "I am the vine" reference.
I must admit that I completely do not understand the fascination with seeing Jesus or the VM in any inanimate object. A cheese sandwich? Really? A water-stained wall. Oh, please.
What a cheap nonsensical religion that would have images of deity appear in such lowly items.

Tipper said...

Kudzu-will it eat the south : ) Neat post!

Busy Bee Suz said...

The vine on the pole looks like a good interpretation to me. Kudzu is crazy...I see it in central florida on the sides of the roads too....Why didn't the Japanese gift us with a money tree instead of kudzu!

KB said...

Did you hear the guffaw from Colorado when I read "You can't spray Jesus with Round-up"!

I don't think that I've ever seen kudzu.

Sam said...

Another of our blogging friends has been posting a series of dogs found in the Kudzu! It's amazing what people see.

Sam

troutbirder said...

Good grief. Another science fiction style movie monster from Japan on the loose. We don't have anything that big but wild parsley can be really vicious.

carolina nana said...

That one isn't near as good as last years kudsu Jesus.
At least it gets people thinking about Jesus !
Blessings

Vicki Lane said...

I've seen a kudzu elephant...

"Just Me - NC Beth" said...

Well...all I see is kudzu growing on a cross.....

I'm with you about the kudzu thing...it has overtaken the South!! I so detest it too! Yes, it's green, but that's about it!!!

~Beth

Taradharma said...

To the farmer who said, "You can't spray Jesus with Roundup," don't worry, sir, that is not Jesus, for Chrissake. People are outta their freakin' minds!

Rudee said...

"You can't spray Jesus with roundup?" Best laugh of the day...thank you, I needed that!

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Great post. Have you heard Kate Campbell's treatment of seeing Jesus in inanimate objects, "Jesus and Tomatoes?" Here's a link to the YouTube video. It's a bit of a wait through the monologue but it's worh it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8_k7j7bu2A

Ruth said...

People are becoming more aware of invasive non-native plants in our area. They seem to be the healthiest and greenest vegetation, even in a drought. I would use roundup on that monstrosity!

Cicero Sings said...

Interesting read. Never heard of kudzu but we have our own, imported, invasive plants up here! Ones we could well do without.

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

George - I agree. I've seen much better ones.

Bug - It is amazing to see how fast the kudzu grows. I can tell a difference almost every time I drive to town.

Ms. A - Yes, it is a pretty green and the foliage is very colorful in the fall. Dead vines in the winter are not so attractive.

Cheryl - I agree it is obscure. I don't know why it made the newspaper.

Donna - It does seem demeaning for Jesus or Mary to appear on chips, sandwiches, or even kudzu.

Wayfarin - I love Kate Campbell, especially her "Songs from the Levee" CD. Thanks for the link.

merrilymarylee said...

I don't think that Roundup kills kudzu, do you?

It sure as heck doesn't kill the wisteria that finds some way to pop up in my flower beds every spring.

What can we say about Kudzu Jesus besides that we wish it had grown in SC instead. (sigh)

Patricia K. Lichen said...

Oh, this is fabulous! A kudzu Jesus? What a hoot!

English ivy is the consuming invasive out here in the Pacific Northwest--but it doesn't hold a candle to kudzu's power.