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a genus of perennial twining plants of the family Leguminosae. The leaves are ternate, and the dark blue or purple flowers are gathered in axillary racemes or panicles. The fruit is a flat, elongate pod.
There are about 15 species (according to other data, as many as 35), distributed in Southern and Eastern Asia, New Guinea, and Polynesia. The kudzu (P. lobata, formerly P. hirsuta) is an arborescent liana or herbaceous perennial with a twining or prostrate stem. It has large leaves and purple flowers in long racemes. The plant grows wild in China, Japan, and Korea. It is cultivated in the subtropics and tropics mainly for fodder (green feed and hay), fiber, and green manure. The roots and pods are sometimes used as a vegetable in food preparation. Starch is obtained from the roots, and the stems yield a strong fiber. The kudzu is an effective soil stabilizer. It is grown as an ornamental in the Crimea and on the Black Sea Shore of the Caucasus. The plant escapes cultivation easily, forming thick covers.