Beach vitex may be on last legs in S.C.

By Tom Lollis

researchers looking at beach vitex; photo by tom lollis

Beach vitex, also known as beach kudzu, may be on its last legs as a threat to native dune plants and sea turtle hatchlings on the South Carolina coast, thanks to the Carolinas Beach Vitex Task Force and Clemson scientists.

Betsy Brabson, a Georgetown County resident and now coordinator of the task force, reported vitex in 2003 to scientists at Clemson’s Baruch Institute for Coastal Ecology and Forest Science. Chuck Gresham, Clemson forestry ecologist, developed control measures that have cleared 96 vitex sites to date and are expected to clear another 92 sites this year using the herbicide Habitat®.

“Vitex could be virtually eliminated in South Carolina by the end of 2009,” said Jack Whetstone, Sea Grant Extension Program specialist at Baruch. The task force won the 2007 Pulling Together Initiative Community Spirit Award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for its efforts to eradicate the plant.

For information: Jack Whetstone, 843-546-6321,