Sunday, December 4, 2011

Monstera deliciosa

The huge, dark green leaves of Monstera deliciosa bring a tropical look to any landscape or home interior. In tropical and subtropical areas this plant is often seen growing up the trunks of large trees. The leaves get larger as the plant increases in size, and the deep splits and holes become more pronounced. Mature leaves can be 3 feet long and 2 feet wide.
The stem of the plant sends out aerial roots that attach to any vertical support, allowing the plant to climb upward. Some of the roots extend from high in a tree all the way to the ground where they branch out and take nutrients directly to the top of the plant.

Given a tall enough tree, the vine can climb 70 feet or more.
In locations where Monstera is successfully grown outside, they flower and produce an edible fruit. The bloom is a large white spathe and spadix arrangement typical of most members of the Araceae family of plants. Flowering occurs in summer and, unlike many tropical plants that quickly mature their fruit, this species takes 14 months from bloom to edible fruit.
The fruit itself grows to about 8-10 inches in length and is covered with green hexagonal scales.

When the scales start to separate, it's time to pick the fruit and bring it inside.
Beneath each scale is a small individual segment of fruit. When the fruit is ripe, the scales loosen and start to fall off. Inside is a delicious white flesh that almost melts in your mouth.
The flavor is unique, but it is often described as a blend of pineapple and banana. It has a soft, slippery texture like mango. The black specks are part of the ripening process, but if you are squeamish, they are easily rinsed off under running water. Only the portion of the fruit where scales have fallen off is edible. Unripe parts contain high levels of oxalic acid and eating those portions is an extremely unpleasant experience, causing irritation of the mouth and throat.  It takes several days to consume the entire thing. Enclosing the whole fruit in a paper bag helps it all ripen at once.
Monstera deliciosa is native to the tropical jungles of Central America from southern Mexico to Panama. As a houseplant, it is quite tolerant of dry air and moderate to low light levels. As a landscape plant, it is recommended for USDA Zones 10-11. Mine are quite successful in Zone 9B, and regularly produce fruit anytime from summer to late fall. Bright shade and evenly moist soil produces the best-looking foliage.


Sunchowder said...

Great info Jim and thanks for posting!!! I would like to try to make some jam with this sometime :)

Zé Júlio said...

Hi Robert!

The monstera is one of my favourite plants and the fruits are so delicious...

Have a nice weekend

Zé Júlio said...

It´s me again. Sorry Jim, and not Robert.

Andrea said...

Hi Jim, it's good you posted this, as even if there are lots of Monstera here, i haven't seen any fruit at all. They just seem to be climbing and growing vegetatively on tree trunks. Its fruit morphologically resembles that of screw pine, although its shape is like pineapple. Maybe it fruits only in colder climate like yours. I haven't even seen flowers!


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