'Delicious monster' leaves over two feet long

monstera deliciosa leaves
Henry Mitchell, the late author of the Earthman gardening column in the Washington Post years ago, wrote about his passion for large leaves, the larger the better. "We do not live in the tropics, and a sound argument can be made that it's esthetically silly to desire tropical touches in a temperate-zone garden. All the same, if someone showed me a plant with leaves twenty-five feet in diameter, I'd probably tear down the garage to accommodate it." It's quite a bit more tropical here in Houston than in Washington, DC. One of the great satisfactions of gardening here is to buy a tiny houseplant and put it in the ground. What is restrained and well-behaved indoors goes wild outside!
very large leaf
This Monstera deliciosa (also known as the Windowleaf, the Swiss Cheese plant or, ambiguously, as one of the Split Leaf Philodendrons) started out as a houseplant at Target, tiny and inexpensive, but took only a couple of years to start producing leaves that are over two feet long. The second photo shows one leaf dwarfing a standard 12 inch/30 cm ruler that I placed on it for scale. Wow! Remembering the plants of this species I'd seen in Washington-area living rooms, I'd been hoping for leaves of just one foot in length. I'd never hoped for anything as good as this.

The Monstera deliciosa produces a sweet fruit, the ceriman, that is something like a pineapple in taste, and something like a banana. Ours has never borne fruit, probably because it lives in the shade, but we once bought one from Whole Foods. I suppose that it is an acquired taste. I love pineapples and I love bananas, but I did not love this fruit. Then again, judging a fruit on only one specimen is hardly fair; it might have been overripe, or not vine-ripened, or a bit spoiled.

Posted: Mon - August 22, 2005 at 02:23 PM