How Kudzu Works

More Kudzu Products

Leave it to the creative and resourceful among us to create even more ways to take something that's just hanging around and turn it into a useful product -- how about kudzu lotion? Along with this green bath and beauty product, you can also find kudzu prominently featured in folk arts and crafts. Artisans can build wall hangings, quilts, sculptures and baskets with handicrafts they've made from kudzu plants. Don't be surprised to find that a house's wall or roof was made with kudzu, either.

You may recall that kudzu was introduced in the U.S. in 1876 as an ornamental vine. It was also promoted as feed for horses and cattle. This makes sense because it's practically free, grows plentifully and seems to appeal to the taste buds of grazing animals. But kudzu's popularity as fodder didn't last very long, because people quickly found that it doesn't hold up well to trampling.

Kudzu may not have gained much traction as a bovine food source, but it may have a future as a source of alternative fuel for automobiles and airplanes. In fact, researchers are exploring it as a form of ethanol. This green, lush plant's roots contain large amounts of carbohydrates that can easily be converted to biofuel. These days, corn and soy are largely used to create biofuel, but some people are concerned that depleted supplies of both due to ethanol production could create a food shortage. In fact, the popularity of corn-based ethanol has already made price swings more volatile, affecting farmers, food manufacturers and even charitable organizations that depend on food donations [source: Ruble]. Proponents of kudzunol say that kudzu is the perfect solution for this dilemma; it grows like a weed and it can meet the demand for fuel for combustible engines -- without jeopardizing food supplies.