Kudzu Monster

Photography by
Derek Henderson
Kudzu (/ˈkʊdzuː/) is a group of plants in the pea family Fabaceae. Climbing, coiling and trailing perennial vines native to much of Asia and some Pacific islands.

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a serious invasive plant in the United States.


When you grow up in the south Pacific, you’re no stranger to exotic landscapes. And, in one of his early books, The Terrible Boredom Of Paradise, New Zealand-born photographer Derek Henderson recreated sub-tropical scenes as he saw them in his childhood, framed by the back window of his parent’s car. This view onto daily life—a small-town street unfurling toward mountains, a rail car giving onto pastoral tropics, surf break under a leaden sky—had diminished nature’s extravagance to banality. Now, in a new collection of photographs, Henderson gives nature full rein. The only sign of humanity is a kudzu vine-consumed person dwarfed by the jungle. By forcing us to search for him, Henderson transforms this “kudzu monster” into one of nature’s proud ornaments.