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Non-native invasive plants pose major threats to biodiversity across the globe. In the southeastern United States, kudzu (Pueraria montana [Lour.] Merr.) was introduced as a flowering, ornamental vine. In many areas, it quickly escaped cultivation and has caused major disruption to native ecosystems. Over the past two decades, kudzu has gradually spread north and west, being found as far north as Illinois and Indiana, and as far west as Kansas and Oklahoma. Only recently has the species distribution been thoroughly assessed in Oklahoma, and these studies have found its statewide range to be more extensive than previously thought. As a result of the species being understudied in the region, the reproductive ecology of kudzu in Oklahoma has gone largely unexamined. Our research provides evidence of sexual reproduction at two sites in southeastern Oklahoma. This is the first documentation of germination of kudzu in Oklahoma. While kudzu reproduces primarily through rhizomatous vegetative growth, the production of viable seeds is essential to the maintenance of genetic diversity and is often important at range limits. This research, coupled with further plant demographic research, could provide key details surrounding the potential further spread of kudzu in Oklahoma.
Articles (c) The Authors
Journal compilation (c) Oklahoma Native Plant Society
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