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Drone's eye view: on the lookout for kudzu

August 2020

Drone's eye view: on the lookout for kudzu – Transcript

Narrator: Not all plants are created equal. Some pose a real danger to our environment, and we have to stay one step ahead. That's where drones come in.

Erin Bullas-Appleton, MSc (Plant Health Survey Biologist, CFIA): Today, we are in Kingsville, Ontario, conducting the final stages of a research project associated with kudzu – an invasive woody plant.

Drone's eye view

Erin Bullas-Appleton: We're fortunate to be able to test drones, or UAVs, at this site. We're located on the north shore of Lake Erie, and the slope where the kudzu has infested is incredibly steep and it is also unstable as it continues to erode. This poses survey challenges and also safety challenges as far as ground surveys being conducted at this site. So UAVs enable us to assess the population as well as the site characteristics without staff into that steep slope.

Why is kudzu a problem?

Erin Bullas-Appleton: Kudzu is an invasive woody perennial vine. It is a problem because it has the capacity to spread vegetatively and not only does it spread quickly, it can spread horizontally and climbs vertically.

So basically it forms a blanket over all the vegetation – suffocating it and choking it out.

What does kudzu look like?

Erin Bullas-Appleton: You can see here, is, has a large lobed leaf, with three leaflets. The leaflets range from 7 to 20 centimeters in length. It is also quite distinct as it has red-ish to purple clusters of flowers that are prominent in mid to late-summer. It's distinct because of its vertical, as well as horizontal grown habits. And it can be distinguished by how quickly spreads through the landscape.

Report invasive plants to the CFIA

Narrator: If you suspect a kudzu infestation, or if you think you've found another plant pest, report it at

Together, we can prevent the spread of invasive plants and plant pests… with a little help from technology.

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