Correction: It has been drawn to my attention that the plant pictured is English ivy, not kudzu, which compromises the premise of this piece. I regret the error, which I’m leaving up for the record and will substantially correct in next week’s issue. —Brian Howe

You know the dogwood and the longleaf pine, but did you know North Carolina has an official carnivorous plant? The Venus flytrap seems too tropical for our mild climate, but it’s been here much longer than kudzu, a vine from Asia that put down rhizomes in the U.S. only 150 years ago. Southern suburbanites grew it for decoration, farmers for erosion control, and from there it spread out into the unruly green beard we see everywhere today. 

Kudzu is as hungry as the flytrap, except that it’s a chronovore—it eats time. Its runners can grow a foot per day. Right now, they’re spinning their invisible, rampant organic tempo on the empty wheel wells and blank dials of a mid-20th-century car rusting in the woods outside of Tuscaloosa-Lakewood. 

To find it, enter the narrow forest path off the sidewalk at McDowell and Pickett, then bear left at the first blue dot painted on a tree and walk for about a minute. The car faces toward the road through an unbroken wall of trees and foliage, as if it were an ancient monument the woods grew up around. See for yourself—but hurry.

At a foot a day, time is running out, even if you can’t see it.

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