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Why It’s Called the Delicious Monster


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.

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Sunil Patel

I'm Sunil Patel, this is me. I created the Garden at 13 Broom Acres and I open it to visitors. I also bake and write blog posts giving a "behind the scenes" look into what it's like to maintain such a garden.

Visit the blog, then come and visit the garden. We can have a good sit-down, a jolly chinwag and a relaxing cup of tea with a sinfully generous slice of home made cake.

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Susan Maclean 10/12/2012 - 8:16 am

I didn’t know either Sunil, so continue to feel smug. And….. where in the world is it common?

Sunil 10/12/2012 - 8:30 pm

Hello Mrs Mac, I think the Delicious Monster is a native of Mexico. Given how good it tastes, I thought it have been exported all over the tropics and sub-tropics.

Norman D Boyd 19/08/2022 - 4:38 pm

I have a large, well-developed one in my back yard in Pensacola. No fruit to date;might be too far north. We had a lot of them in Miam.

Naomi Le Roux 24/06/2017 - 11:47 pm

Hello Sunil I have 2 different Monster diliciousa her in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. One the same as this plant on your site and the other one without the holes in the leaves. Here is no place where I can upload a photo.

Sunil 03/07/2017 - 10:43 pm

Hello Naomi, I always though the leaves without holes are just younger leaves and that they develop the holes as they grow and mature.

Francois 04/06/2021 - 7:10 am

I didn’t know this either Sunil but I am very happy that I do now. Thank you for enlightening me. #staysmug

Sunil 08/06/2021 - 12:27 pm

No worries, we learn something new everyday in gardening.


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