Where Is Monstera Deliciosa Native

Uncertainty surrounds the name Monstera’s possible Latin monstrum origin, which refers to the plant’s monster-like leaves. The specific epithet, deliciosa, relates to the edible fruit and implies delightful.

The genus Monstera, which originated in tropical America and is closely related to philodendrons, has roughly 22 species. The range of this particular species extends from Mexico to Panama in the south, but it is also commonly cultivated in other tropical regions. It can grow to a height of 20 meters in its natural habitat, where it uses aerial roots to climb trees in search of light. The thick, fibrous stems from which the aerial roots dangle down resemble drapes. By its aerial roots, the big specimen of Monstera deliciosa at Oxford Botanic Garden clings to the wall of one of the glasshouse corridors. The roots are used in Mexico to make baskets and in Peru to make rope.

The major reason why monstera deliciosa is grown is for its one-meter-long, glossy, dark green leaves. Young leaves have unbroken edges, but as the plant grows older, the leaf edges become deeply sliced and develop elliptic holes. There are also lovely variegated cultivars with cream marbling on the leaves that can offer contrast to other tropical foliage while illuminating a dim area in a room or glasshouse.

The flowers and eventual fruit of this plant are another reason to grow it. The Araceae’s characteristically small blooms are tightly clustered at the base of a whitish spadix and encircled by a lovely creamy white spathe. If the circumstances are ideal, these intricate inflorescences will produce scaly fruit that tastes of pineapple and banana. The only component of Monstera deliciosa that is safe to eat is the ripe fruit, it is crucial to remember this. The unripe fruit includes raphides and trichosclereids, which are needle-like structures that will irritate the throat, while the stems and leaves contain a sap that can cause a rash. The fruit’s tough, green scales naturally peel off when it is ripe, exposing the creamy yellow kernels inside.

Because they can withstand poor lighting and low humidity, Monstera deliciosa is a popular choice for indoor plants, but growth ceases at 10 C. The ideal environment is at least 20 C and heavy humidity. In the past, English hot houses were used to raise Monstera deliciosa for its fruit.

1999 Huxley A. Gardening terms from The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary. Dictionary company Groves Inc.

CD Muir, 2013. What caused the Swiss cheese factory’s holes? pp. 273-281 in The American Naturalist 181.

Is the Australian native Monstera deliciosa?

I was really aback to discover a Monstera growing wild as I strolled down the MAMU skywalk. Nothing else has a flower, fruit, or set of leaves quite like that, so it had to be a Monster. However, it wasn’t the Monstera deliciosa that I cultivated and wrote about a few years ago.

It shocked me that MAMU’s own Flora and Fauna Guide referred to it as a “Native Monstera” (which sounded correct) and listed “Epipremnum aureum” as the botanical name, as any two plants this similar are often in the same genus.

I looked into it more when I got home and discovered a confusing jumble of names—the same type of stuff I discussed in Common names and Latin names six months ago and Butterfly vines and Swallowtail butterflies a year earlier. It’s clear that I enjoy this type of problem, and I believe I have now identified the three species and numerous names that are involved. We’ll see.

My three species are all vines that belong to the Monsteroideae subfamily and tribe of the Araceae family, which includes the Arum Lily. (That link will take you to Wikipedia, where you can get as much information as you like; for the time being, it’s sufficient to know that they are all connected.)

Monstera deliciosa

We started with a common ornamental vine that produces eatable fruit. Its identity is extremely evident because it solely goes by its botanical name, “Monstera” or “Monstera deliciosa” (at least in Australia). It is native to Mexico and Panama, as stated in Wikipedia, but has been spread to many other nations.

Native Monstera

Since anyone who is familiar with the cultivated Monstera deliciosa will immediately recognize the similarities, I prefer using their popular term, “Native Monstera,” for the plant I encountered at MAMU.

The native distribution of this plant stretches from Northern Australia to South-east Asia into Southern China, Taiwan, and Japan as well as East into Melanesia. It indicates therapeutic applications in Singapore in its section on Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants, an outstanding website by CSIRO, but I have only found one source that claims the fruit is edible; it was a commercial nursery, and I’m not sure I would trust it with my life.

Botanists have frequently transferred the Native Monstera and its allies from one genus to another within the Monstereae (the entry on Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants lists them all). We shall run into Pothos again; his current name is Epipremnum. It makes sense that the second element of the name—pinnatum—means “divided like a feather” and alludes to the leaves.

Epipremnum pinnatum is the name of our native monstera. Thus, MAMU has the correct genus but the incorrect species name.

Epipremnum pinnatum is referred to as “Golden Pothos Vine” on iNaturalist, but I believe this is a bad choice, especially when Epipremnum aureum is referred to as “Golden Pothos” (without the ‘Vine’). Other common names exist abroad, but not in Australia, it would seem.

Golden Pothos

What, then, is “Golden Pothos”? Prior to Epipremnum’s adoption, Pothos was one of the genera of Monstereae, and aureum is Latin for “golden.” Therefore, the term “Golden Pothos” is a literal translation of a no longer used Latin name for a specific relative of our monsteras; the correct botanical name is Epipremnum aureum.

The vine is a creeper with variegated leaves, as we will quickly discover when looking up either the popular name (image search) or the botanical name (image search). It is also widely planted in our gardens here in NQ, where it climbs trees and makes leaves as large as monsteras, thus it is well known (but not usually divided and never holey). It is typically grown inside in pots in temperate climates, so the leaves don’t develop to their full capacity.

Epipremnum aureum is quite thoroughly described on Wikipedia, which notes that it is indigenous to French Polynesia and provides a great range of common names for it, including “golden pothos, Ceylon creeper, hunter’s cloak, ivy arum,… Solomon Islands ivy, marble queen, taro vine, and devil’s ivy.”

When I realized how well I knew “Golden Pothos,” my initial reaction was that it couldn’t be connected to monsteras because it didn’t have fruits or flowers that were similar. Then I realized I had never even seen its flowers.

In addition, Wikipedia notes that “it rarely flowers without artificial hormone injections; the last documented spontaneous flowering was observed in 1964… This “shy-flowering plant” won’t bloom no matter where it is planted or the environmental circumstances because of a genetic defect.

Instead, because it is such a common houseplant, appealing, and tough, it spreads vegetatively regularly with human assistance via cuttings. In fact, because it is so hard to kill, it earned the name “Devil’s Ivy.” Indoor plants are then, of course, thrown out and settle on the trash heap, climb the closest tree, etc.

When the vine does, on rare instances, develop a bloom or fruit, they are in fact strikingly similar to those of the Native Monstera, as seen, for instance, in the fruit on wikipedia.

Since the History and Etymology part of Wikipedia explains why MAMU gave our Native Monstera the incorrect botanical name and iNaturalist gave it the wrong popular name, I’ll quote it in its entirety.

The Golden Pothos species has been categorized under several genera. Pothos aureus was the name given to it when it was initially reported in 1880, which is part of the reason it is frequently called a “pothos.” A flower was given the new name Raphidophora aurea after it was discovered in 1962. When the flower was examined more closely, however, scientists discovered a stronger resemblance to Epipremnum pinnatum and grouped the two species together. Researchers didn’t once again distinguish it from E. pinnatum and categorize it as E. aureum until they paid more attention to the complete plant, including the leaves and growing habits. [10]

Interestingly, this vine is listed as Epipremnum pinnatum cv. Aureum on the Tropical Rainforest Plants website, which appears to be a little out of date. The term “cultivated variation” (abbreviated “cv”) refers to plants that are noticeably different from others of the same species (more on Wikipedia).

Where can one find Monstera plants?

Your monstera may not seem like a vine to you, but it is. These lovely creatures are indigenous to the tropical rainforests of Central America1, where they soar to incredible heights from the forest’s base. Although the majority of common monsteras have a similar appearance, part of the fun is determining your type:

  • The most well-liked monstera available on the market is Monstera deliciosa, sometimes referred to as the Swiss cheese plant. Its enormous, heart-shaped leaves grow big holes along the main leaf vein and large leaf splits along the outside edge when grown and exposed to enough light. 1
  • Monkey mask, often referred to as monstera adansonii, is less typical. The edges of its arrow-shaped leaves do not separate. The perforations, however, are still present inside the leaf edges.
  • Although mislabeled plants are widespread, Monstera obliqua is a rare plant that is rarely found for sale. It looks quite similar to Monstera adansonii but has narrower, thinner leaves and more leaf holes.

All monsteras belong to the dangerous Araceae botanical family, which is poisonous to animals if swallowed. 2 Pets should never be taught to consume houseplants or plant pieces, if you have any. Call your veterinarian right away if your pet consumes monstera leaves or stems.

Is Monstera deliciosa a Hawaiian native plant?

The delicious monstera “is quite typical in Hawaii. It is one of the biggest taro vines and bears up to three feet long, thick, heart-shaped leaves. When fully grown, they have stems up to 3 feet long and are lobed and pierced. The vine’s woody stem scrambles over the surface or climbs over supports, releasing stringy roots that may or may not descend to the earth. It prospers in the shade.” (Neal, 1965) (*Staples & Herbst [2005] indicate that these plants favor regions with lots of light, like forest borders, open spaces inside forests, or the high canopy.) “The vine is well known for its long, cone-shaped, edible fruits, which measure about 8 by 2 inches and are made up of several berries that stick together and have a flavor that is similar to a blend of banana and pineapple. A creamy-white, delicate pulp that is delectable when ripe is surrounded by a skin with hexagonal plates that is yellow-green with violet spots. When it is green, it has calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate the tongue and throat. With the exception of a few sterile flowers close to the base, the spike’s many blossoms are excellent. A white bract first covers the spike, but it quickly comes off. Hawaii is home to four other Monstera species that have somewhat overlapping, heart-shaped or oval leaves. All five species’ youngest leaves are complete.” (Neal, 1965) “Monstera, Rhaphidophora, Scindapsus, Epipremnum, and Philodendron are a few genera of woody taro vines that have species that seem very similar in general. Their flowers differ in minute features, but because many species do not blossom in cultivation, naming them sometimes leads to confusion. But there is enough variation in the leaves to tell the plants apart. One Monstera species (M. deliciosa Liebm.) is relatively widespread in Hawaii out of the almost 30* species of Monstera known from tropical America.” (Neal, 1965) (*Staples & Herbst [2005] state that Monstera has roughly 60 native species that are found in countries including Mexico, Brazil, and Bolivia. Tropical America is the original home of Monsteradeliciosa.

Where can I find wild monsteras?

You might be asking where in the world you might get Monstera plants now that you are a bit more familiar with some of the various types.

Here are some locations where you can see these plants in their natural setting:

  • In Costa Rica
  • Panama
  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Colombia
  • Belize

Most frequently seen in Central and South America, monstera plants are native to tropical regions. However, you can also locate them in other places like Southeast Asia and Africa.

Because Monsteras prefer warm temperatures and high humidity levels, these surroundings are ideal for them. Tall trees also provide the plants with the appropriate lighting conditions by shining strong indirect light.

Are Monsteras invasive species?

A species of flowering plant known as Monstera deliciosa, often known as the Swiss cheese plant[2] or split-leaf philodendron[3], is indigenous to the tropical woods of southern Mexico and Panama.

[4] It has been brought to many tropical regions, and in Hawaii, the Seychelles, Ascension Island, and the Society Islands, it has become a mildly invasive species. It is extensively cultivated as a houseplant in temperate regions.

The allied species of Monstera adansonii, which belong to the same genus, are also referred to by the common name “Swiss cheese plant.”

[5] Even though neither plant belongs to the genus Philodendron, the popular name “split-leaf philodendron” is also applied to the species Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. [3]

Where in Australia can I locate wild Monstera?

In New South Wales, the fruit salad plant, Monstera deliciosa, is considered an invasive species. Particularly in the warmer regions of eastern Australia, this extremely widespread garden plant has turned into a weed of riparian zones and urban bushland. It grows frequently where garden waste has been thrown in coastal locations where it is relatively widespread. Due to its easy identification and challenging collecting requirements, fruit salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) is likely underrepresented in herbarium collections. Despite having been naturalized for some years, it was only discovered in New South Wales for the first time in 2003.

In coastal New South Wales, this plant is listed on certain local environmental weed lists (i.e. in Warringah City, Gosford City and Byron Shire). In addition to becoming naturalized in coastal areas, the lower to mid Blue Mountains, and urban bushland in the Hornsby Plateau region to the north of Sydney, it has also been observed there. For instance, fruit salad plant (Monstera deliciosa) is listed as a common environmental weed in the Upper Parramatta River Catchment’s O’Regan Reserve, a weed of disturbed woodlands and heathlands in Gosford, a weed of Coffs Harbour’s Crystal Waters Wetlands, an environmental weed along Kincumber Creek in Gosford, a weed in the Blue Mountains’ Jackson Park, and a weed in Hornsby’s

Monstera deliciosa, often known as fruit salad plant, was just recently identified as having naturalized for the first time in Queensland. It is, however, rather typical in suburban Brisbane bushland, with some naturalized plants reaching heights of 5 m or more into the canopies of trees. It primarily grows in roadside ditches and rivers where garden waste has been put (e.g. along Enoggera Creek, Ithaca Creek and the Brisbane River).