Q: Could you tell me how and why kudzu and Chinese privet were brought here?
A: Kudzu came from Japan to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Importers thought it could be a nice flowering vine and a good grazing crop for farm animals. In the mid-1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corps and southern farmers planted kudzu to reduce soil erosion. Kudzu grows very well in poor soil and even better in rich soil, leading to its invasive character across the South. Chinese privet was also introduced as an ornamental plant. The white flowers are pretty and the scent is sweet but the seeds are avidly consumed by birds and deposited in unwanted places anywhere there is a bit of soil. I have a humorous essay on how to grow kudzu at bit.ly/GAgrowkudzu.