It is likely there is a monster growing in your neighborhood. This monster may be an unassuming green mass climbing up the side of a neighborÕs tree or even climbing the wall in your aunt RuthÕs living room. This monster could even be growing in your own home. Monstera deliciosa, while it may sound like a music track from an obscure Mexican metal band, I assure you it is much more than that. Split leaf philodendron, hurricane leaf, Swiss cheese plant and monster fruit are just some of the common names for this climbing tropical plant in the arum family. At a glance it may remind you of a philadendron of which it is related. Both are commonly grown ornamental plants but M. deliciosa hides a tasty secret.
This plant isnÕt called Òmonster fruitÓ or Òfruit salad treeÓ for no reason. Monstera deliciosa provides a rare treat to those who cultivate it especially outdoors. Monster fruit will thrive indoors especially if it is given room to climb but rarely will it flower and fruit. Growing them outdoors is more likely to earn you the delicious fruit of its namesake. The appearance of monster fruit can be likened to a green pinecone crossbred with corn on the cob. The unripe fruit is covered in green hexagonal scales that expand and loosen eventually falling away like kernels of corn. Underneath the scales lies the delicious part of M. deliciosa. The fruit has a texture similar to pineapple and a flavor likened to banana, pineapple and jackfruit.
Be aware that arum family plants often contain calcium oxalate crystals. This is the equivalent of fiberglass in plants. These fibers can cause rashes and irritate the throat if eaten. The fibers are present in the hexagonal scales on the outside of unripe fruit and pose little threat once removed from ripened fruit. Easy hands free ripening can be achieved by placing green fruit in a paper bag and allowing the scales to pop off in time.
With this bit of information, you now know how to identify this monster in your neighborhood. Happy hunting. I sincerely hope you get to experience the rare treat known as monster fruit. On rare occasion you may even find a seed inside your monster fruit. I was able to grow a new plant from the seed pictured. *No monsters were harmed in the writing of this article.