Doomsday preppers have readied themselves for many end-of-days scenarios: zombie apocalypse, alien apocalypse, viral apocalypse. A recent trip to Georgia revealed the true danger lurking in our midst and led me to wonder how many survivalists have set aside a cache of vegetation killer?
Kudzu, a vine native to Asia was introduced to the U.S. in 1876 and planted throughout the country for decades as a means of erosion control. It worked quite well. Too well. Noting its tendency to “grow over, smother and kill all other vegetation, including trees,” the federal government declared it a noxious weed in 1998. It can grow up to a foot a day and estimates are that over 7 million acres are afflicted, primarily in the Southeast.
I was stunned during a recent foray into north Georgia’s mountains. The vine had completely overtaken large swaths of the landscape. “The plant that ate the South” had consumed signs, cars, and was beginning to encroach on the road to my nephew’s cabin. Will I be able to find it next year? I made a mental note: Bring a machete.