Weed-pulling seems to be a year-round chore in south Louisiana. “The vine that ate the South” is the kudzu plant, native to Asia, that was introduced to the United States in the 19th century. As noted in a previous column, the vine was classified as a pest weed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 50 years ago. In addition to being a nuisance, scientists determined kudzu also aids in the formation of harmful low-level ozone. Researchers compared kudzu growth in Georgia with regions where it was absent, finding the kudzu sections held twice as much nitric oxide emissions. When nitric oxide interacts with sunlight, ozone or photochemical smog occurs. The National Academy of Science revealed kudzu covers 7.6 million acres in the Southeast, spreading 120,000 acres each year.
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