Kudzu was originally introduced into the United States as an ornamental vine at the Japanese Pavilion of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. The botanist and plant explorer David Fairchild observed extensive use of kudzu as pasturage in Japan. In 1902, he planted seedlings around his Washington, D.C. home to explore their potential in the United States. By 1938, he became disenchanted with kudzu because it “grew all over the bushes and climbed the pines, smothering them with a mass of vegetation which bent them to the ground and became a tangled nuisance. I spent two hundred dollars in the years which followed trying to get rid of it, but when we sold the place there was still some kudzu behind the house….”
Few plants can survive once smothered by kudzu. Here it is seen growing on a Princess Tree, (also known as Royal Paulownia or Empress Tree) another alien invasive, which has been naturalized in the eastern US for over 150 years.