In the devil’s garden where luscious monsters dwell…
There is a tropical plant native to Central America that has several names. One of the most colorful nicknames is Monstera Delicisiosa or delicious monster. The monstrous part is not difficult to understand. The unripe fruit of the plant contains oxalic acid. This is reminiscent of the alien monsters in a Sigourney Weaver movie: acid for the blood. The delicious designation comes from the fully ripe fruit. When the fruit of the plant is ready to eat, it is said to smell heavenly and taste reminiscent of fruit salad. A mix of pineapple and banana. Some other names for the plant are Mexican breadfruit and locusts and wild honey. If you’re an adventurous eater, there may be a delicious monster in your future.
Another name for the delicious monster is Swiss cheese plant. This tropical plant has deeply lobed leaves that can be up to two feet wide and three feet long. Mature leaves develop natural holes along the length of the leaf that make it appear that predation by some ravenous insect is taking place. However, the holes are natural. These holes naturally lead us to yet another name for the plant, namely the hurricane plant. Some people with colorful imaginations have speculated that the many holes in the plant increase its ability to survive a hurricane.
In the wild, a Swiss cheese plant can grow 20 to 30 feet long. The plant is a member of the arum family and is an epiphyte or air plant. Such plants tend to grow on top of other plants and receive food from the air, dead leaves, or insects.
The only way to get fruit from a Swiss Cheese plant is to grow it in the wild or in a greenhouse. The plant likes a warm and humid environment. However, the Swiss cheese plant is a popular houseplant. Growing this plant is not a hobby for the careless as its sap can be irritating to the skin. Like most houseplants, it should not be overwatered. In fact, a good tip for many houseplants is to avoid potting soil if possible because it doesn’t drain well. Use something like vermiculite. In other words, look for something that won’t hold water near the roots and won’t rot them.
Although the Swiss Cheese plant does seed, it is usually propagated through cuttings. If you want to see flowers and fruit from a Swiss Cheese plant, be prepared to wait 12-14 months. In the wild, people wait until the fruit hits the ground to eat it. If you do manage to get the plant to bear fruit in a greenhouse, wait until the fruit kernels begin to shed on their own. The fruit resembles a long green pineapple. You can speed up the ripening of fruit by covering it with paper, plastic wrap, or aluminum foil and letting it sit at room temperature. The fruit will ripen from the bottom up. Not everything matures at the same time. Since some people are allergic or sensitive to the various components of the fruit, eat at your own risk. You can try asking your doctor if he thinks it is safe for you to eat.
Some other names for the Swiss cheese plant are Ceriman, split-leaved philodendron, and Japanese pineapple.
The Swiss cheese plant has been cultivated in the cloud forests of Vera Cruz. In tropical rainforest countries, the long roots of the plant are sometimes braided together to make ropes or baskets. Snake oil sellers claim that the plant is a cure for arthritis and snakebite.