Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa

Monstera deliciosa (also called Ceriman, Swiss Cheese Plant, Fruit Salad Plant, Monster fruit, Monsterio Delicio, Monstereo, Mexican Breadfruit, Monstera, split-leaf philodendron, Locust and Wild Honey, Windowleaf and Delicous Monster) is a creeping vine native to tropical rainforests from southern Mexico south to Panama.

Characteristics

It has a thick stem growing up to 20 m height and large, leathery, glossy, heart-shaped leaves 25-90 cm long by 25-75 cm broad. On young plants the leaves start out smaller and entire with no lobes or holes, but older plants soon produce lobed and holed leaves. The fruit is up to 25 cm long and 3-4 cm diameter, looking like a green ear of corn lined with hexagonal scales. When it first flowers, the fruit contains so much oxalic acid that it is poisonous, causing immediate and painful blistering and irritation, swelling, itching, and loss of voice. It takes a year for the fruit to ripen, at which point it is safe to eat.

The seedlings grow towards the darkest area they can find until they find a tree to latch onto, at which point they start to grow up towards the light, creeping up the tree.

Cultivation

The fruit may be ripened by cutting the fruit when the first scales begin to lift up and the fruit begins to exude a pungent odor, then wrapping in a paper bag and setting aside until the kernels begin popping off. The kernels are then brushed off; they fall away to reveal the edible flesh underneath. The flesh, which is approximately like that of pineapple in texture, is then cut away from the core and eaten. It has a delicious fruity taste similar to jackfruit and pineapple. Eating the immature fruit which has not matured and still has the kernels firmly attached, exposes the throat to the oxalic acid and is dangerous.

Uses

Monstera deliciosa is commonly grown as a houseplant for decoration, typically in hotels, restaurants and offices, as well as in private homes. It grows best at a temperatures of 20 °C to 30 °C, requires high humidity, and needs shade. Growth ceases below 10 °C and frost will kill it. It flowers around 3 years after it is planted in ideal conditions, and takes 1 year longer for the fruit to ripen. Flowering is rare when grown indoors. The plant can be transplanted by taking cuttings of a mature plant or by air layering.

The rhizome is used in the treatment of colds and rheumatism.

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