"Kudzu" AKA "King Kudzu", "Curse Weed", "The Noxious Weed", "Devil Vine", "Lengbloom", "Miracle Weed", "Lobelia", "Venus Flynets"
Origin: Kudzu is a real, invasive species of vine which has become a nuisance species in Appalachia, where it is given monstrous attributes in the local folklore.
Kudzu is an infamous weed in the United States, where it can be found in 32 states. It is common along roadsides and other disturbed areas throughout most of the southeast, where it has become a touchpoint in Southern US culture, and Kudzu would gain an ongoing mythos as a mile-a-minute invader, likely due to its visibility coating trees at wooded roadsides, thriving in the sunshine at the forest edge. Kudzu's environmental and ecological damage results from its outcompeting other species for a resource... light, and acts to block access to this vital resource by growing over and shading surrounding flora and other structures with its leaves, and native plants may then die as a result.
Kudzu was originally introduced from Japan into the United States at the Japanese pavilion in the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, and it was also shown at the Chicago World's Fair. The new Soil Conservation Service grew seventy million kudzu seedlings and paid $8 an acre to anyone who would sow the vine, while road and rail builders planted kudzu to stabilize steep slopes. Kudzu remained a garden plant until the Dust Bowl era (1930s–1940s), when the vine was marketed as a way for farmers to stop soil erosion; farmer and journalist Channing Cope, dubbed "kudzu kid" in a 1949 Time magazine profile, popularized it in the South as a fix for eroded soils, and started the Kudzu Club of America, which, by 1943, had 20,000 members. The club aimed to plant eight million acres across the South. Cultivation peaked at over one million acres (4,000 km2) by 1945. Once Soil Service payments ended, much of the kudzu was destroyed as farmers turned the land over to more profitable uses. The Soil Conservation Service stopped promoting kudzu altogether by the 1950s.
The Kudzu of the Appalachian hill country is an invasive, alien species of plant which infests an area seemingly overnight (some investigators reckon a rate of hundreds of thousands of acres a year), rapidly spreading over the surrounding vegetation, buildings, and other objects and structures (such as barns, trees, farmhouses and tractors, electrical pylons and lines, and more), the leaves blocking out the sunlight, and the vines choking and killing off native, natural plants.
Beneath the encroaching blanket of vegetation, life in the hills goes on, houses and barns buckling under the weight of the Kudzu, and furtive, misshapen locals creep under cover of the vines untouched by the light of the sun. Cattle graze on the plants, and are subtly altered by it, and deep within the tangled fields of Kudzu where the railroads no longer run the deepest, oldest blankets of alien vegetation devour all life in the shadows of the dark and bloody ground below, while the wind whispers through the strange leaves with the voices of unearthly beings from unspeakable worlds.
The Kudzu Club of Appalachia
Kudzu was first spread by the cult of Kudzu, who would later call themselves "The Kudzu Club of Appalachia". It is whispered that they worship the alien plant under the name "Lobelia", though Mythos Kudzu is of extraterrestrial origin, either an alien planet or parallel dimension, perhaps the Dreamlands, or deep in the bowels of Earth's inner Hell, but whatever its true origin, this unnatural vine is unrelated to either earthly kudzu, or earthly lobelia.
The true origin of the plant that the Kudzu Club serves may be recorded in the strange, indecipherable "almanac" that the agents of the Kudzu Club carry with them as they wander the hills, planting the nightmare seedlings in likely places.
Even as Kudzu lays waste to every hill it spreads upon, members of the "Kudzu Club of Appalachia", blond-haired, blue-eyed, wiry folk of medium height and fair skin, wander from town to town, extolling the virtues of the plant to all who have not yet heard the rumors of the trail of destruction the club has left in its wake, bearing seedlings everywhere they go, and planting them fresh colonies in the remotest corners of Appalachia - their self-proclaimed dream "to plant so many Kudzu seedlings across America, that none may go hungry!"
What the Kudzu Club leave unsaid is WHO or WHAT would not go hungry, should the somehow achieve their dream: the Kudzu knows, and when enough seedlings have been planted and the stars are right, the Kudzu will at last sate its hunger upon the world. As near as the oldest hill folk can tell, the Kudzu Club began their quest to seed the world with Kudzu in 1792, long before the mild, pale earthly imitation was introduced at the Exposition of '76: the pale, blond emissaries of Kudzu Club have wandered Appalachia, barely noticed, for generations, spreading the strange gospels of "Lobelia" and planting their noxious weeds, leaving false promises and ruined lives and desolate hills of leafy horror behind them, their final, smiling promise as they leave: "One day, we will return, and harvest what we have sown!"
Heresies and Controversies
- Mythos Kudzu adapted from rural folklore about the real-life Kudzu by members of YSDC, borrowing elements of the legend of Johnny Appleseed and long-forgotten pulp horror comics for the Kudzu Club cult.;
- The unearthly origins of the "Kudzu" that plagues the Appalachian hills of the Folk Mythos is variously rumored to have been the hellish alien jungles of Venus, the mysterious Plateau of Leng, the Dreamlands, some fecund abyss of the Hollow Earth, and the hill folk do not hesitate to say it is from "the very pits of Hell itself!"
- Mythos Kudzu eats the earth beneath it, including other plants and even animals, and subtly alters anything that eats it. One day, Kudzu will cover and devour the world.
Associated Mythos Elements
- setting: Folk Mythos
- cult: The Kudzu Club of Appalachia