Just got an interesting email alert:
AZ-WEED NOTES: 9 Oct. 2006; Phoenix, AZ
ARIZONA KUDZU DISCOVERY
According to USDA’s Plants database the closest Kudzu populations to Arizona are in eastern Texas.
However, Huachuca City residents say that a strange, sprawling, densely-leaved vine that is smothering a desert broom shrub by their Lions Club building has been around at least 5 years.
During the last week of September, David Madison (Arizona Dept. of Agriculture) collected a sample of the Cochise county plant that eventually ended up at the Maricopa County U-of-AZ Cooperative Extension office on the desk of Dr. Ed Northam, Invasive Plants Program Manager.
Kudzu produces flowers in late summer in other states, so that diagnostic trait was not present on samples collected during the following several days.
In other words, stems, leaves, roots and on site photographs were needed to compile enough vegetative characteristics to determine that Arizona’s first Kudzu (Pueraria) population is thriving in a mountainous semidesert region at an elevation of 4300 feet.
A second opinion was requested from Dr. Kelly Steele (ASU plant taxonomist), and she agreed with the initial diagnosis.
Since Kudzu has demonstrated that its roots can survive winter conditions as far north as Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon and Washington, it is not surprising that Arizona has areas above 4000 feet elevation that will support Kudzu growth, especially when summer monsoon conditions are wetter than usual.
If you are in Arizona this fall and notice a large woody vine with 3-leaflet compound leaves (leaf length ranges from 4 to 10 inches including a hairy petiole), collect a sample and send it to the Maricopa Cooperative Extension Office.
Kudzu plants that have been growing all summer will have above ground runners that are several feet long; also check to see if an extensive lateral root system is present.
There are photos here; Picture 2 has got a good shot of the infestation.