The battle against kudzu

Published 11:42 am Monday, August 14, 2023

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Eradication efforts continue throughout Polk County


POLK COUNTY—Kudzu may be associated with the South, but it’s a non-native, invasive species of plant that can smother and kill native species of trees and shrubs, cover roadways, overtake utility poles and lines and clog waterways. 

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Scott Welborn, director of the NC County Extension office in Polk County says kudzu was planted at the direction of the federal government in the 1930s primarily to fight erosion. 

“It will be virtually impossible to eradicate all kudzu in Polk County and I’m not sure we would want to,” says Welborn. “Many of those kudzu vines are doing exactly what they were supposed to do, prevent erosion.”

But Welborn says kudzu needs to be controlled and that battle is happening on multiple fronts in Polk County. Private landowners can contact Welborn to get an evaluation of their kudzu problem and recommendations on methods to control it both organic and conventional.

On public lands, the Polk County Appearance Commission has a kudzu eradication project in place involving three municipalities and nine community organizations that have been working together to remove dozens of acres of kudzu across the county since 2020. 

“At the rate of kudzu growth in Polk County there will always be kudzu vines threatening our environment and scenery, killing trees, and stifling native plants,” says PCAC member Robert Williamson, who adds that the PCAC’s eradication effort is making progress controlling kudzu in key areas. 

At the 185-acre Norman Wilder Forest, a popular hiking spot just outside of Tryon, the non-profit Conserving Carolina works with a volunteer group called the Kudzu Warriors. Since its founding in 2011, the group has eradicated about 25 acres of kudzu in the preserve allowing native species to return.

“When the native plants return, the entire ecosystem returns to the area,” says the organization’s community engagement director Pam Torlina. “We see more insects, more reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds. It’s amazing to watch the ecosystem return after reestablishing the foundation of native plants!”

To get involved with the Kudzu Warriors go to To help with the county’s kudzu eradication effort visit and to get help with kudzu on your own property visit