While walking around for a few hours the other week with my horticulturalist friend, we ran across this (open for a larger version):
It's an entire hillside and several trees completely covered by frost-damaged kudzu (Pueraria montana). Of course, kudzu is edible: kudzu jam, kudzu perfume, kudzu syrup, kudzu in salad, kudzu in quiche, stuffed kudzu leaves--I can think of a bajillion different uses! I wouldn't eat it, however. One never knows what's been sprayed when on these invasive plants in public areas. It's really not uncommon to eat it, I don't think--I find a ton of recipes when I search "kudzu recipes" on Google.
The kudzu was everywhere along the embankment at Walter C. Pierce Community Park, which, I have gathered, used to be a more vibrant gathering spot with a community garden and such. I like it now anyhow--I use it often to cut across Rock Creek Park. There's a dog park area, a basketball court, a playground, and a large grassy field, and it's just down the road from the parcours in Woodley Park (an outdoor fitness area that I always think might be fun to use but never get around to actually using). Walter Pierce Park is just south of the National Zoo--if you look behind the trees on the right, you can see a greenhouse structure on what I'm pretty sure is the Zoo's property.
About 15 years ago, an article was published about a group arguing with the Zoo about allowing a historic property to go untended in a successful effort to block the construction of a mulching facility. There's a sentence at the end that the hubbub group turned its attention to battle the Zoo's use of herbicide to fight the kudzu growing at the park--it's unclear whether they won that battle or not, because kudzu is so frakkin' tenacious, the Zoo's use of herbicide may not have had a real impact anyway. Fifteen years later, it seems that the historic building is still standing--as is the kudzu.
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