The kudzu vine is a native of Japan and China, where it enjoys a life of ecological balance, hemmed in by the other plant and animal species that it evolved alongside. It plays its biological part, fixing nitrogen out of the air and into the soil and helping to redistribute and diffuse nutrients and energy. The kudzu story would end there if it had stayed within its home range. Instead, the vine has taken on an almost mythological aura as it has spread and smothered a vast range of land in the southern United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The fast-growing vine, in the absence of natural predators, blazes across forests, climbing and reaching for every bit of available sunlight. The leaves shade out and kill any native fauna unfortunate enough to be found underneath. This vine is a prodigious grower and its advance has yet to be stopped in any meaningful way. There are efforts underway to develop specialized herbicides to combat kudzu and some people are working on tasty ways to eat it but for now, the vine marches on.

Shea Gunther–Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)

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