On trend at present and almost ubiquitous in design and decor magazines, homemaker stores and lifestyle TV shows, is the classic, indoor plant, Monstera Deliciosa. It is not a rose, so I am off subject slightly, but it is a very interesting plant. As a culture we have not heard much about Monstera for the past decades. It was popular in the 1970’s and now is high on trend again as are many interior design aspects from that era are. Popular for indoor gardens, patio’s, terraces and stylish, contemporary, apartments. The unique, Swiss cheese plant pops up everywhere in design circles and surface design on textiles, cushions, cards, wrapping paper, wallpaper and fashion items.
Monstera deliciosa is loved as an indoor plant or as a tropical, garden plant. I came across this beauty whilst away on a wine weekend in Rutherglen NSW. It was spectacular with masses of huge leaves, flowers as well as fruit. Monstera is from the latin word that means “monstrous” or “abnormal”. So named for the huge leaves with unique holes and the also the large nature of the plants.
The plants spreads and grows quite tall and has a magnificent, white, exotic flower but is also considered hazardous in warm tropical climates. If they are able to grow wild in the bushland they will attach themselves to existing trees becoming a dense and impenetrable canopy, so are considered a noxious weed in parts of Australia. It is called an epiphyte, meaning it gets nutrients from the air not the soil and grows attached onto other plants.
Monstera is also known as Fruit Salad Plant, Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit, Split Leaf Philodendron, Taro Vine and Window Leaf Plant. The Monstera plant is native to the humid, tropical, rainforests of Mexico and Central America. The seeds will fall to the ground where the seedlings oddly enough, will crawl until they meet a tree on which to attach themselves. This is called negative phototropism, so the opposite to the way plants usually grow towards the light, called phototropism. The roots allow the plant to anchor against its new support and reach the above canopy.
As a child we lived in a sub-tropical area by the coast and had many Monstera Deliciosa plants in the garden. Once the flowers are pollinated the plants will grow a have long green, fruit called ceriman. Monstera is related to the Spathiphyllum family, we know today as, The Peace Lily, that has the similar shaped beautiful, white flower.
As children we loved the mystery and slight trepidation of eating this delicious, fruit because if eaten unripe it is quite dangerous to humans being full of potassium oxalate that causes severe irritation, swelling of the throat and itching. To eat the fruit you need to wait until the scales begin to lift off and it begins to give out a pungent odor. Afterwards, wrap in a brown paper bag until all the scales pop off and underneath you will find the luscious fruit.
Then the fun begins, as the fruit is delicious ( hence the name) but still has to be removed without any remains of the stamen’s long fibres or the thick skin that comes off in segmented chunks. The taste is very exotic and a mix of pineapple, banana and pear which is why it is called fruit salad plant.
Henri Matisse loved the Monstera deliciosa as well as interior designers and hipster homemakers. Henri Matisse had a studio at Hotel Regina Nice in 1948 complete with a gigantic indoor Monstera plant. His Monstera was the inspiration for his colourful cut out work La Gerbe (The Sheaf) from 1953 also pictured below.
Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
Quotes Henri Matisse
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