In a way, I’ve been waiting to write this post for over 15 years. It’s all about the once-fashionable house plant commonly known as the “swiss cheese” plant, because its large glossy leaves begin whole, but split and develop holes as they mature. If you were posh you would buy a dried moss-stuffed pole for it to clamber up.
Its botanical name is “Monstera Deliciosa” or the “Delicious Monster” – isn’t that funny? It’s this that has had me pondering for such a long time – when botanical names are somewhat formal – delphinium, lavatera, helenium etc – why would something be named a “Delicious Monster”?
The answer is in the fruit it produces. The plant won’t flower if it’s kept indoors as a house plant. It’s tender and wants hot, tropical conditions with lots of sun, where it will easily sprawl for several meters and produce large fruits after flowering. Having only seen these as house plants, I was somewhat surprised to learn this as it had never occurred to me even though it’s completely normal when you think about it. The fruit is edible and where is does grow outdoors and is harvested, it also goes by the name of “banana-pineapple”.
The fruit looks and works a lot like a corn cob. You peel off the outer skin and pick off the individual kernels. It’s sweet and has the texture of a banana and a taste like pineapple – hence “banana-pineapple”.
So we have a large plant that produces tasty, sweet fruit, hence the “Delicious Monster”.
I realise that most of you will probably already know this, but it was an eye opener for me when I discovered it and put two-and-two together. I’ve still got that warm, smug feeling you get when you finally learn the answer to a question that’s been in the back of your head for many years.