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Environmental Update
Spring 2004
This is an archived article. Facts and links are current as of publication date.
The Kudzu of the Beach

Vitex rotundifolia
Photo by Tommy Socha and
Robin Roecker
Vitex rotundifolia

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District is working with the Corps' Environmental Engineering and Sciences, Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) to exchange information on the problem plant Vitex rotundifolia.

The Korean native was imported to South Carolina in the 1960s to help protect and build front beach sand dunes. The plants resist drought, tolerate salt, grow fast and endure sand blasting. Unfortunately, the plant's prolific nature and its amazing resilience are now causing it to take over the natural vegetation along the South Carolina shore.

Removing the deep-rooted plant will most likely involve herbicides or digging, which could be tricky in the fragile beach dune ecosystems.

ERDC has provided information on the herbicides available to manage the plant and is examining mechanisms to help provide support to the Charleston District.

Team members at ERDC are working with Clemson University and the U.S. Geological Survey to determine the best procedure to rid the beach of the plants.

— Tommy Socha, USACE, Charleston District, and Robin Roecker, Francis Marion and Sumter National Forest, S.C.

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