Kudzu vines kill trees, smother native species, bury barns and houses. A new study says they cause air pollution, too. Invasive Pueraria lobata is infamous as “the weed that ate the South,” burying the countryside in tough, fast-growing vines with roots that can weigh up to 400 pounds.
Those roots fix nitrogen from the soil quite efficiently, which might be a good thing if microbes didn’t release much of that nitrogen into the air as nitric oxide, one of the gases that comes out of your car’s tailpipe. This nitric oxide reacts with sunlight and elements in the lower atmosphere to produce ozone and other components of smog, just like in the big city.