kudzu ko͝od´zo͞o [key], plant of the family Leguminosae ( pulse family), native to Japan. Kudzu ( Pueraria thunbergiana ) has a woody stem, broad leaves, and clusters of large purple flowers. It is used as a cover crop, for pasturage and hay, and for controlling soil erosion; in Asia, it is cultivated for its edible tubers and hemplike fiber. It was introduced in the United States c.1876 as a decorative vine. Later promoted for erosion control, its rank growth on roadsides, rail embankments, and forest edges in the South earned it a reputation (due in part to overestimates of its spread) as a noxious weed. Kudzu is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Rosales, family Leguminosae.
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