SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — The invasive kudzu plant has become a fact of life in East Tennessee, whether we want it here or not.
The voracious vine that ate the South has recently overtaken parts of Sevier County that were impacted by the 2016 wildfires -- becoming something of a danger because the vine is extremely flammable.
Because it is known to spread rapidly, people in Sevierville met to discuss ways of keeping it out of their community and methods of battling it across the county.
Keep Sevierville Beautiful hosted a Kudzu Town Hall Thursday night at the Civic Center. Experts were on hand to discuss what people can do to control kudzu infestations and warn them about how massive its roots can be.
"It's very hard to get rid of. You have to get to the root of it. You have to get to the core of it. Somebody told me they had gotten a core of a kudzu somewhere and it was the size of a car, so you can't just shave it off the top of the ground. You have to go deeper than that to get the actual kudzu," Keep Sevierville Beautiful Executive Director Lisa Bryant said.
Experts said kudzu can grow up to 15 inches each day.
The plant can weigh down trees and create hazards during ice storms. The vine eliminates habitats for native animals.
In recent years, kudzu is accompanied by another infestation: kudzu bugs. The invasive insects are an agricultural pest and a nuisance to homeowners as they swarm buildings when the weather cools in the fall.
While incredibly difficult to control, leaders say it's possible to successfully tangle the vine with enough work and coordination.