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Keister, A - Monestera deliciosa

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago

The Monstera Deliciosa is a tropical plant which belongs to the Araceae family. It is commonly called the swiss cheese plant because of the holes it has in its leaves. The name monstera itself is an unknown derivation (Everett 1981). This plant is indigenous to Suriname but can be found in places such as Costa Rica, Peru, Florida and tropical America regions. This plant is found in the neotropic biome (world wild life 2008). The plant is most comfortable in high humidity and high temperatures. It also grows best in soils that are moist, well drained and rich in organic matter. It needs sun and shade both to grow properly.  The plant has a semi woody stem and vines and aerial roots that usually grow up tall trees. The vines can grow up to 20 meters in height (Wikipedia 2008). They are adequate for growing in pots and usually don’t need support in that case.   A mature plant has glossy deep green ovate shaped leaves. The holes in the leaves are randomly placed and come in various sizes. The flowers are a cream color; the fruit is green and resembles an ear of corn. It takes twelve to fourteen months from opening of the inflorescence to maturity of the fruit (Gilman, 1999). At maturity the fruit can be eaten and is compared to tasting of pineapple. The fruit is high in vitamin C and potassium (Tropilab). Before maturity the fruits contain crystals of calcium oxalate which can severely irritate the mouth and throat (Everett 1981). The results of eating an unripe fruit are painful blistering, swelling, itching, and loss of voice (Wikipedia 2008).  Propagation can occur by sewing seeds that are ripe. If the seeds have become dry it is not possible to reproduce the plant. The seeds have a short viable life and do not withstand low temperatures well (Tropilab). A very interesting and unusual fact about this plant is that the seedlings grow in the direction of the darkest area until they find a base of a tree to grow on (Watson, L. and Dallwitz).


Monstera flower and fruit.



            People use the monstera as an enhancer to their landscaping and gardening. It is also widely used as an indoor decoration plant in places that it is not normally grown. This is a common potted plant found in office buildings and hotels. Flowering is very rare when the plant is housed (Watson, L. and Dallwitz). The plant will survive as long as it is kept at sixty degrees Fahrenheit and above. The plant is also known to have a few medical applications as well. In Mexico a leaf or root infusion taken daily is used to relieve arthritis and a root preparation is used in Martinique as a remedy for snakebites (Tropilab). As mentioned above as well the fruits of the monstera can be eaten and can actually be delicious if eaten at the proper time. They also use the fruits as flavoring to drinks and ice-cream.




Leaf of the monstera

Monstera deliciosa - Swiss-cheese plant (Araceae)

Leaf at Keokea, Maui, Hawaii. March 08, 2007.

Photo by Forest & Kim Starr.










The Monstera is native to the high altitude forests of Mexico and Central America and grows at between three hundred and two-thousand meters above sea level.  The plant was then introduced to Tanzania, Hawaii, and the Galapagos (tropical-biology.org 2006). The monstera is not considered invasive to these places. The plant can however, invade undisturbed forest since they are in the shade. The Monstera then ends up growing up to the top of the canopy and smothers the trees that it covers (tropical-biology.org 2006). This plant isn’t usually harmful and normally provides food for animals and humans unless the fruit is not ripe and can make the person or animal sick.


            Mexico and Central America is made up of two major habitat types; tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and coniferous forests (world wild-life fund 2008). The Monstera is primarily found in tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests. Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests can have over one-thousand species of trees per square kilometer (world wild-life fund 2008). Temperatures are high and more than two hundred centimeters of rain falls annually. This environment allows for the most rapid plant and animal growth on the planet. Humans are the biggest threat to the Monstera and its habitat. Deforestation is creating tremendous negative impact with means of commercial logging and clearing for farm-land (world wild-life fund 2008). According to the world wildlife fund “At the current rate of deforestation, more than 17,000 species will go extinct every year.” This being a vine plant climbs the trees and then gets destroyed along with them. Destroying this ecosystem which provides humans with medicines and animals with homes is also adding to the global warming issue. The first thing that is needed for saving these habitats is education. If people are educated on how much damage is actually being done with deforestation then perhaps more action will be taken in helping preserve these forests. Creating more groups to cover our carbon footprints and beyond. I suggest for every tree destroyed we plant two in its place.  Perhaps finding alternative resources could cut down on large-scale commercial logging. Finding any way to decrease the harming of our forests will slow down the extinction and destruction of these ecosystems and their inhabitants.


            The monstera deliciosa can grow full and fruitful in its natural habitat. The fruits start to bloom after about three years of growing. When taken out of its natural habitat and turned into a potted plant the monstera does not flower and is usually trimmed to maintain its small shape.















The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of horticulture. (Ma-Par). Thomas H. Everett. Garland publishing, Inc. New York and London 1981. pg  2227-2228





The American horticultural society A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk. DK publishing, Inc. 1996.





Tropilab Inc.







University of Florida. Edward F. Gilman. 1999.







World wildlife. 2008







Watson, L. and Dallwitz, M. J. 1992. The Families of Flowering Plants.







Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. 2008.




Usambara invasive plants. 2006.































































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