Ancestral Notes

My Family History blog

Blog Action Day 09 – The “Vine That Ate The South” Nibbling On The Great White North

Global warming? Greenhouse effect? What does climate change mean for the future of our planet? How will this affect the food supply? Will we be able to produce enough to feed our nation? How will farmers cope with the climate change, will they start growing different types of cash crops that will be more profitable or will the farmer be more likely to give up the farm altogether? How long would it be before invasive plants start growing where they’ve never been seen before? The answer is, it has already begun.

photo of Kudzu vine on lake shore
from Chatham-Kent Daily Post

One example is the Kudzu vine, “the vine that ate the South”, which has recently showed up in the area, on the north shore of Lake Erie. There is a lot of speculation about where it came from, whether it was brought here by migrating birds or maybe someone planted it, or it came by water. whatever the reason, it is here.

I recently learned about how invasive and destructive the Kudzu vine can be after watching the series on The History Channel called “Life After People”. It is an interesting series about what would happen, in a timeline, if people ceased to exist. Imagine my shock when the next weekly edition of our local paper, The Leamington Post and Shopper, ran a half-page article on the front page saying that the vine has been found a few miles from me!

Environmentalists say that the Kudzu vine may survive the cold winter, but our climate is too cold for it to thrive and do any damage. But how long before the winters aren’t so cold anymore, what will happen then? Will the county be invaded by these vines and choke out the crops in the field? There are more questions than answers and all environmentalists can do is watch and wait.

The Kudzu vine is a native of Asia and was brought to the United States to prevent soil erosion. The vine grows at a rate of one foot per day and has roots as deep as 15 feet. Any piece of root can start growing into a new vine, so all of the roots have to be removed. It may take up to ten years to eradicate one vine! The seeds stay dormant for years and could germinate at any time.

The Kudzu vine carries soy bean rust that can infect the soy bean crops in the area, which would be very detrimental to the soy bean production in Essex County. The vine would also invade the orchards and destroy the fruit trees that would either die from lack of sunlight or from the weight of the vine. The tomato crop would also be destroyed, both in the field and in the greenhouse indusrty. the Tomato Capitol of Canada would cease to exist. A lot of families depend on food processing plants for employment and if there are no crops to process, the jobs would be gone.

The fodder for the livestock would also be affected by the invasion of the Kudzu, and if the alfalfa, hay and corn fields don’t produce, the farmers will have to spend more money to buy the feed. The industry is not doing well as it is, this would probably finish it off.

The vines would grow up hydro poles and the weight would send the poles and power lines crashing to the ground. The cost of electricity would soar because of the added cost of constant maintenance.

And what would become of our National Park, Point Pelee, which is a world-famous destination for birdwatchers worldwide? The virgin forest would get strangled out of existence and there would be no place for the millions of birds that migrate through here every spring to get food or shelter. They will go elsewhere or perish.

The virgin forests that our ancestors worked so hard to clear for future generations could become unable to sustain anything other than the Kudzu vine in a single generation. This plant should never have been brought to this continent in the first place, and it is slowly creeping north and our only defense against the wrath of the Kudzu is our climate.

The tartan for Essex County would have to be changed also.

The meaning of the colours are as follows:

Golden Yellow (sunshine) for the golden harvest grains, corn, soy beans, barley, oats and wheat.
Green for the spring fields.
Red for tomatoes,”Tomato Capital Of the World”, and for other fruits.
Blue for the blue skies and the waterways.
Black for the automotive industry.
White for the salt mines and fish.

– from
Essex County website


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October 2009
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