Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is native to temperate and tropical Asia, as well as parts of the south-western Pacific.
  • Kudzu is a very aggressive, exceptionally vigorous, environmental and economic weed that spreads rapidly, forming extensive monocultures.
  • Kudzu has been included in the list of 100 of the world's worst invasive alien species.
  • Kudzu is of great concern given its history as a weed in other regions of the world.
  • Kudzu in naturalised in Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a perennial trailing, scrambling or climbing herb, with tubers 60-90 cm (-200 cm) long and 18-45 cm wide, and up to 180 kg when old. Stems are up to 30 m long, covered in dense rusty hairs, and become almost hairless with age. Leaves are divided into three leaflets, which can be 2-3-lobed. The leaflets are egg-shaped and broadest below middle, to diamond-shaped, with the apex gradually tapering to a sharp point, 7-20 cm long, and 5-20 cm wide. The uppermost (terminal) leaflet is slightly larger and 3-lobed, the side (lateral) leaflets usually have 2 lobes. In some areas, during the cooler or drier periods some or all of the leaves may be shed.

Elongated flowering clusters are produced in the leaf forks, and are usually unbranched, 5-35 cm long. Flowers are in groups of 3, and are vanilla- or grape-scented. The flowers are 12-20 mm long, and purple, violet, mauve or pink with a large basal bright ochre or yellow spot.

Fruit is a flattened pod which is 40-130 mm long, 6-13 mm wide, and with rusty hairs. It splits on two sides to release the 8-15 seeds (Verdcourt 1979; Duke 1981; van der Maesen 1985; Hacker 1990; Gardner 2002; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006).

For further information and assistance with identification of Kudzu contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Purple, Pink, or Multicoloured

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In Asia and the United States Kudzu is reported to grow in a wide range of soils. Current infestations in Australia are largely in riparian zones originally supporting subtropical and dry rainforests. As well as along watercourses, Kudzu also occurs on roadsides, in waste areas and disturbed sites, and in moist forests. It grows vigorously in a range of environments and soil types. However, it especially favours deep, loamy soils (North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006).

Are there similar species?

Kudzu can be confused with Blue Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica), when not in flower. Blue Morning Glory has lobed or unlobed leaves that are similar to the leaflets of Kudzu. However, the leaves of Blue Morning Glory are usually smaller and darker in colour, simple (not formed into compound leaves containing three leaflets) and they do not have swollen leaf stalk bases (The Weed Society of Queensland 2006).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Kudzu is a very aggressive, exceptionally vigorous, environmental and economic weed that spreads rapidly, forming extensive monocultures. This invasive species is of serious concern because of its history as a weed in other parts of the world, particularly in the southern parts of the United States, which has a similar climate to that of the coastal regions of Australia. In southern parts of the United States, Kudzu has infested about 3 million hectares and causes US $500 million damage per annum in lost productivity and control costs (North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006). Kudzu has been included in the list of 100 of the "World's Worst" invaders (Miller 2005).

Native ecosystems: It has the ability to out compete and eliminate native plant species and destroy the diversity of native plant and animal communities. Its extremely rapid growth rate and habit of growing over objects threatens natural areas by smothering native vegetation. The rampant growth of Kudzu severely threatens biodiversity through restricting germination of plant seedlings, reducing the amount and diversity of food resources for native fauna and impacting on other habitat values.

Human: It restricts human movement, smothers fences, power lines, rail lines and other infrastructure and reduces scenic values (Miller 2003; North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; EPPO 2007).


How does it spread?

Kudzu is spread vegetatively by rooting of runners at the nodes. It has been generally observed that dispersal by seed is limited, as seed production tends to be poor (Britton et al 2002; PIER 2006; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006). When Kudzu does set seed, the seeds are shed from the pod and generally fall near the parent plant, and can then be spread by water or the transport of contaminated soil, machinery and equipment. The main method of spread from area to area is by people planting it for a range of reasons, including ornamental, horticultural or for erosion control (Turnbull & Storrie 2004).

What is its history in Australia?

Kudzu was probably deliberately introduced into Australia many years ago as an ornamental plant and pasture legume. The plant also has qualities useful in non-western medicine as a demuculent, or medication given to soothe irritated mucous membranes, and may have been promoted as a permaculture plant (North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006). The earliest record of its presence in Australia is an undated specimen held at the Queensland Herbarium, collected in the late 1800s (Hacker 1990). The earliest recorded naturalised occurrence is in New South Wales, near Tweed Heads, in January 1926 (Coveny 2007, pers. comm.).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Once Kudzu is introduced into an area, it is difficult to control or eradicate (Stajsic 2007, pers. comm.).

Chemical control: Herbicide control can be achieved using cut stump or basal bark techniques or foliar application. The larger tubers will require repeated applications over at least two years. The method of control used will depend on the site situation e.g. open area or amongst other desired vegetation, tuber size, and access. Great care is required in controlling infestations in riparian zones, wetlands and other significant environments in order to minimise any adverse environmental impacts such as off-target damage from herbicides to native plants and aquatic fauna species such as frogs (North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; Miller 2005).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au.

Non-chemical control: Manual removal of isolated small plants of Kudzu can be attempted by hand pulling or digging the tubers. This method is practical for a small number of plants. Pigs have also been used as an effective tool for controlling Kudzu as they actively dig out and eat the long tubers. Continual grazing with cattle may weaken the plants enough to kill them. This method should be combined with other control techniques, such as repeated herbicide treatment.

No biological control agents or pathogens are currently available for the control of Kudzu in Australia. Due to the restricted current distribution of the plant it is more economical to eradicate the plants using a range of other methods rather than biocontrol (North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Most growth of Kudzu is vegetative. Plants produce new roots where nodes contact the soil. Tubers are produced at these roots, and contain carbohydrate reserves that enable Kudzu to over-winter in frost-prone areas and rapidly regrow each spring. It flowers in late summer, when the plants are in the full sun (no flowering occurs in shaded areas). Following flowering, clusters of elongated hairy bean-like pods develop in the autumn, containing a few lucerne-sized seeds. There is one seed crop per year. Seedlings develop a woody root crown with multiple runners and extensive tuberous roots (Britton et al. 2002; North Coast Weeds Advisory Committee 2004; Turnbull & Storrie 2004; EPPO 2007).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Kudzu has become naturalised in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales, as well as on Norfolk Island (Green 1994; AVH 2007). Several populations have been recorded in coastal districts of Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales in recent years. In Queensland, it has mainly been recorded from the south-east of the state around Brisbane, and in the Townsville-Cairns region. It is probably more common in northern New South Wales, with populations present in the Murwillumbah, Byron, Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Bellingen Shires. In the Northern Territory there are two records in the north-east part of the Territory (The Weed Society of Queensland 2006, AVH 2007). On Norfolk Island, it is naturalised in the Hundred Acre Reserve (Green 1994).

Where does it originate?

Kudzu is a native to many parts of eastern and south-eastern Asia. It has a wide natural distribution which encompasses both temperate and tropical Asia, as well as the south-western Pacific. Nowadays it is found in the far eastern part of the Russian Federation, China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and extends to Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines. In the Pacific region it occurs in Fiji, New Caledonia, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu (van der Maesen 1985; The Weed Society of Queensland 2006; GRIN 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Pueraria lobata

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Pueraria lobata (Willd.) Ohwi var. lobata
  • Dolichos lobatus Willd.
  • Pueraria montana var. lobata (Willd.) Maesen & S.M.Almeida ex Sanjappa & Predeep

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Kudzu Vine

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