Knowing your enemy is the best first step towards confronting it. Kudzu's growing habits and plant parts are important in this regard. Evaluating the effectiveness of treatments, or discovering new ones, also requires being familiar with the normal healthy appearance of the plant. For example, consider the following photograph of kudzu leaves that was taken July 2007.

Normal kudzu leaves (bottom right), somewhat nibbled by insects (who says kudzu has no natural predators?), are larger and a deeper green than leaves of a stressed plant (top left). Full-sized leaves are as large as your hand. The leaves of a stressed plant are much smaller than normal, and yellowish-green in color. Notice that some stressed leaves have a green pattern of veins. Highly stressed plants never develop leaves, and grow as mere sprouts. Investigating why the plant is stressed (lack of water? lack of light? too hot? too cold?) is an opportunity to discover new ways to control or eliminate the plant.

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Believe it or not, kudzu can be hard to locate and identify after many years of herbicide treatment, or when kudzu is aggressively grazed by animals like deer. Or both as was the case at a hunt camp in Sumter National Forest. In these abnormal situations the kudzu hunter must be experienced enough to know what to look for: The usually exuberant growth characteristic of kudzu is not always present. Some young plants, such as wild pea, closely resemble kudzu sprouts that germinate from seed — this is a problem even for experienced kudzu hunters.