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George Czapar George Czapar
Extension Educator, Integrated Pest Management
University of Illinois Extension
(217) 782-6515

Southern Weeds Moving North

Kudzu is a well-known weed in the southern United States. In addition to its aggressive growth habit, it is an alternate host for Asian soybean rust. Although kudzu has been identified in over 30 counties in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has helped prevent the spread of this invasive weed through an eradication program. Kudzu is designated as a federal noxious weed and it was recently added to the list of Illinois exotic weeds, making it illegal to buy, sell, or plant. Currently, most kudzu populations in Illinois have been identified and are under some type of management program. In contrast, wild grape, Virginia creeper, and poison ivy vines are very common and are sometimes mistaken for kudzu.

A weed that seems to be increasing in Illinois is common pokeweed. It is a simple perennial that can grow up to eight feet tall. Common pokeweed has a deep taproot that can grow to six inches in diameter. The plant spreads mainly by seeds, and birds are an effective seed dispersal mechanism. In addition, seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to 40 years. Pokeweed infestations normally begin in fencerows and undisturbed field borders, but they are becoming more common in reduced tillage fields. As with most perennial weeds, seedlings are easier to control, while established perennial plants are more difficult to manage. A two-year study found that pokeweed seedlings were able to regenerate new growth from the roots after 5 to 6 weeks.

Pokeweed 45 Days After Planting Kudzu Has Alternate, Trifoliate Leaves figure 3
Pokeweed 45 Days After Planting Kudzu Has Alternate, Trifoliate Leaves
Department of Crop Sciences
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension
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