Appalachia Appalachian Dialect Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

The Kudzu Man

the kudzu man mike norris

The Kudzu Man

The Kudzu Man is dead asleep,
But soon he’ll stir, and move his feet.
His skin will turn to green from brown,
As his fingers reach along the ground,
Down the hill and around the pond,
Under the fence and over the barn.

He shakes his head to see how he’s paid,
Squirted with poison, cut with blades.
What kind of crime could make them so vexed?
He just loves sunshine and seeing what’s next.

written by Mike Norris


I hope you enjoyed Mike’s great rhyme about kudzu as much as I did! When I think of kudzu my mind immediately goes to the Nantahala Gorge. The green vine drapes the trees along the roadside making it look like it’s guarded by green giants.

Between here and the folk school there’s a patch of kudzu growing in the towering trees. I’ve often wondered if it will ever reach Wilson Holler.

Mike also sent me a great link to an article in the Smithsonian Magazine. According to it kudzu isn’t nearly as aggressive as what we’ve been led to believe, but I still don’t think I want any of the stuff around my house.

If you’d like to read more of Mike’s Appalachian Rhymes check out his book Mommy Goose Rhymes from the Mountains. You can purchase it from The University Press of Kentucky.




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  • Reply
    O P Holder
    September 1, 2017 at 8:48 am

    At the age of 13 I sold a man a lard bucket full of kudzu roots for 25c. Neither his neighbor not the railway were amused. There is however a method of somewhat slowing it down. Mulch with concrete.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    August 28, 2017 at 11:07 am

    I love the grape smell of kudzu, but don’t miss its take over of the south. Someone mentioned bittersweet. Up here in Michigan, that’s the real threat. We have had to have remediation for that in a large part of our place. It does grow so quickly and it’s insidious. The DNR will probably have to declare war on it before long as it’s beginning to take over an take down trees.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    Love the poem!!!
    A long time ago, we were some of the original tenants who moved into a new apartment complex north of Atlanta, GA. It was still under construction, and when it was complete and the construction crews left, they left a huge yellow Caterpillar road scraper sitting in a vacant field at the complex entrance.
    We all thought it was left behind because it was broken, and because it wasn’t in our way or on our property, we gave no more thought to it. Years came and went. Tenants came and went. And through the years, kudzu came and covered the big machine over.
    Well, about 3-4 years later, an insurance investigator was going door-to-door in the complex asking questions. When he came to our door, he asked if we knew anything about a Caterpillar machine that disappeared from the property when it was under construction. We said, “Yes. It’s still here.” He said, “Where?” while looking around. We told him. He said, “You mean that big green hump at the entrance is the Caterpillar?” We said, “Yes.” He shook his head while walking away. A few days later, the “big green hump” disappeared on the back of a flat bed truck.
    But listen, can you imagine leaving something that big and that expensive behind for so long it got totally covered over with kudzu?
    And even more, can you imagine being daft enough to think someone had stolen it years before and had gotten away with it for that long? LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Richard Moore
    August 26, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Karl Edward Wagner (1945-1994) wrote a horror story about evil things hiding in kudzu surrounding an old mansion in Knoxville–“Where the Summer Ends”. Karl, who I met once and corresponded with, was a native of Knoxville. His father was Aubrey “Red” Wagner who for years was a top official at the Tennessee Valley Authority. Although he had an MD degree from UNC at Chapel Hill, Karl chose the life of a writer and wrote some of the best modern horror stories.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    A patch of kudzu can stop a train! There was a hill on the little short-line railroad that was sell-covered with kudzu; it would grow out over the tracks and as the wheels of the locomotive mashed it against the rails, it turned to a lubricant, literally ‘greasing the rails’ to a point where the train could not continue unless they left half (or more) of the train behind and came back for it later. This was an every-day thing for the railroad…

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 25, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Swain County is cursed with Kudzu, it has claimed road banks, trees and any deserted property it is near. It now has another imported pest that is almost impossible to kill, it is Japanese Knotweed and was once imported as an ornamental in the UK and the US but sadly later discovered that it will over ride property. I have some which got started on our property from the Lord only knows where, I have cut i, burned it and sprayed it ad it is back within a month. Check it out online.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Soehl
    August 25, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Well, when the famine comes, I will survive by harvesting kudzu roots. It is actually a very prized food in Japan, where kudzu starch is used in many dishes. We should be eating it rather than cursing it!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 25, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Buffalo Cove Road is how you get to Darby where one of Roy Pipes’s novels is based.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 25, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Here is a kudzu story that turned out better.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    I planted Bittersweet and I believe it could take over the world. I cut it back several times a summer, as I have learned the hard way it is very hard to get it out of the hillside trees if you have let it go for several years. Looks pretty on my picket fence, but don’t let it get away from you. It has tendrils that grow rapidly as well as under ground roots sprouting up everywhere. Also, the Trumpet Vine needs attention or it can be everywhere too.

  • Reply
    eva m. wike
    August 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Tipper: YOUR POST and followers are very informative! Two posts (Jackie & Cindy) are scary! I am going on a SEEK & DESTROY KUDZU MISSION here in East TN!
    Eva Nell
    p.s. We will be in Hayesville for a family reunion – ON MY BIRTHDAY – and I did not plan it!!! What about that?
    p.s. again: There will be fiddle music at our reunion by a dozen fiddlers after lunch – if they don’t take a nap!

  • Reply
    August 25, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    Yep,live in the south gotta get use to seeing kudzu. It’s good goat food, or cows will graze on it also.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 25, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Back before I can even remember Daddy planted some kudzu on an old gall way up on the left fork of Wiggins Creek. It took aholt and soon covered the sore and climbed into the trees surrounding it. Before long it had completely taken over about a quarter acre of hillside. It climbed the trees around the perimeter and rode them over making perfect shelters for little boys playing in the woods. Its vines dangled from the trees as an invite to children to swing which we were oft keen to accommodate. Whereas it takes many years for a grapevine to become an adequate playground fixture, kudzu manages to do it in less than a season.
    As happens in so many situations the children all grew up, abandoned their childhood haunts and moved away. Daddy left Earth for his new home in heaven. The Kudzu Patch, as it was known, was left to its own devices. There is no record of the ensuing years but not too long ago my sister, now the property owner, asked me to walk it with her to look at the timber. When we got to the Kudzu Patch there was no kudzu. The ground, where before had been barren, now was covered with rich black soil and flush with vegetation.
    My Daddy was a smart man!

  • Reply
    Anne D.
    August 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Cascading emerald green kudzu is alternately a blessing and a curse.
    We live in South Mississippi, where the Chinese transplant vine has climbed red clay banks along highways and rivers and revines, stopping erosion, also covered bushes, climbed the highest trees, and turned buildings and any immovable object into green lumps since 1936.
    Said to grow anywhere from 30 to 50 feet in a year, kudzu is a force to contend with.
    So far, MS agricultural agents tell that there is no safe poison developed to rid this world of the green pest.
    If y’all have some come creeping onto your land, turn the cows loose on it. They love that stuff.
    Yes, it is beautiful, but destructive. Like bamboo, once kudzu gets a ‘foothold’, one has a life long battle controlling it.
    Down here, it solves the problem of erosion alright, but becomes a green monster.
    Tipper, I am thrilled to read that you are ‘sperking back up’, a Deep South term.
    Sometimes Resting and slowing down a bit is the only way to allow the meds to do their job to heal us.
    I have missed the ray of mountain sunshine and news from you and family for the last year, as I have had health issues and not able to read your blog entries written from an angel’s heart.
    I know I will heal much faster now that I get a dose of N C news everyday.
    May God keep y’all in His mighty Hands.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

    Lost the second part of my comment….?? Anyhow, the Kudzu is about three miles from my hill, we still have time to start a goat herd…ha

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 25, 2017 at 11:22 am

    It would take a zillion and a half very voracious hungry goats to eat all the Kudzu in East Tennessee! However, since we can’t seem to totally control the stuff. My idee…is to sort of live with it!
    My Dad hated it by the way, as it would creep overnight into his postage stamp city garden in the back yard. I have seen it all my life and know for a fact that in the right weather conditions, moisture, temperature and sun….it will grow over a foot in twenty-four hours Why he thought that putting up a chain link fence between his property line and the Kudzu line would keep it out is a conundrum to me! Other than the fact that he could see the green creeping up on the fence and douse it with spray. Also he would trespass between his fence and Mr. Kudzu and use his old mower and lower it to the dirt and mow away….then spray just at dusk after the dust settled a bit from mowing it down to earth. Ha….It did help, but Mom raised cane about the herbicide near her flowers, etc. so he soon would just mow it mower width between his fence and Kudzu.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 25, 2017 at 11:21 am

    We have a great big tall kudzu monster on our road. It is about 20 feet tall and probably 8 feet wide. It has two legs, big humpty shoulders, no neck and no visible head and at least one long arm. Every now and then they kill him down to the ground but he comes back up.
    The legs are kudzu vines climbing up the guy wires. The humpy top is what the vines do when they reach the top of the pole. The long arm is the vines running out the electric line.
    I think there probably is an army of these green monsters stalking around all over the south.
    I was told a sad story with kudzu as a main player. A young woman in northwest Georgia left her parents house one summer day to go to her college classes but never arrived. For days and days they hunted for her but found no sign and there was no report from anyone having seen her. Finally her Dad told her brother, “We are going to walk every inch of that road until we find her.” So they set out together from home walking opposite sides of the road and they found her. The car had left the road without leaving any skid marks or disturbed ground and run into a kudzu patch. The vines were not torn down and closed in behind the car with no evidence of anything having happened. Every time I recall that story I am so sad for her Dad and brother but I guess it is worse to never know.

  • Reply
    August 25, 2017 at 11:20 am

    That blooming Kudsu is about everywhere, but it helps in the Nantahala Gorge. I noticed Kudsu has made it to the lower end of our property, but I can’t wait till it meets our Mountain Laurel. That stuff would be a match for just about anything and except for a few Pines, it shore looks good when everything else dies back. I like it when it’s Cold and those Laurels look like green cigars trying to keep warm. …Ken

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 25, 2017 at 10:51 am

    The grape-like scent (which I actually like) that the knuckleheaded naturalist spinning stories for the Smithsonian mentions is there right now – as it has been in late summer for decades. It comes not from a kudzu bug, but from the bloom of the kudzu. The very fact that he’d associate the odor with the kudzu bug instead of the bloom tells me that he’s never actually left his ivory tower to have any hands-on dealing with the monster.
    It is an ongoing battle for me personally at the Bryson City Cemetery; the bank on the other side of the road is completely covered and it has fully enveloped large trees there. It took me a good while to subdue its threat to cover the grounds two years ago, and I still have to deal with sprouts on a weekly basis.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 25, 2017 at 9:47 am

    A super poem! Delightful! We don’t have kudzu in New Mexico, of course, but the beautiful four o’clock flowers that grace my garden in summer — and multiply every year — love shade and “seeing what’s next.” Sadly, they are considered “noxious weeds” by many folks.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 25, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Tipper–I would humbly suggest that the erstwhile cognoscenti at “Smithsonian Magazine” must not have a great deal of experience with kudzu in its natural (well, really unnatural I guess, since it isn’t a native plant) element. In the peak of summer it will grow readily measurable lengths every day, and its tendrils will creep, climb, crawl, and encompass anything and everything in its path.
    It can be kept in check and even removed, but it takes a great deal of effort, in most cases chemicals, and persistence. As a friend said to me recently, “it’s a good thing it dies back with frost or otherwise it would take the land.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    August 25, 2017 at 8:39 am

    In the early Spring in Georgia with lots of rain I’ve measured 13 inches of growth in 24 hours. Blackberry briars only grew 2 and 1/2 inches in the same time. Both were in poor soil.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    August 25, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I remember someone telling me before I moved to the South
    “Don’t sit outside to take a nap
    You will end up with Kudzu in your lap”
    It really is beautiful to look at but sure is invasive.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 25, 2017 at 7:23 am

    There is a very big patch of kudzu on Martin’s creek going into Murphy. They spray it around the edges every year but it comes back the next spring.
    I guess I need to read the article you mentioned. I’ve always heard that it is so invasive that it is impossible to get rid of once it starts. I have visions of kudzu taking over the world!

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