It supposedly conquered the South, but Kudzu grows mostly in our imagination. Writing for The Smithsonian, Bill Finch reports that the damage and its spread is vastly overstated.
Now that scientists at last are attaching real numbers to the threat of kudzu, it's becoming clear that most of what people think about kudzu is wrong. Its growth is not "sinister," as Willie Morris, the influential editor of Harper's Magazine, described in his many stories and memoirs about life in Yazoo City, Mississippi. The more I investigate, the more I recognize that kudzu's place in the popular imagination reveals as much about the power of American mythmaking, and the distorted way we see the natural world, as it does about the vine's threat to the countryside.