Common name: Windowleaf, Ceriman, Split-leaf philodendron, Monstera
Botanical name: Monstera deliciosa Family: Araceae (arum family)
Split-leaf philodendron is a popular foliage houseplant easily recognized by
its large glossy leaves that are dissected with deep splits and perforated
with oblong holes. In nature, windowleaf is an evergreen liana that climbs
high into the rain forest canopy, attaching itself to trunks and branches and
supporting itself above the ground with long tentacle-like aerial roots. The
aerial roots grow downward out of the thick stem and take root where they
touch the ground. The vines are only sparingly branched and a single vine can
reach more than 70 ft (21.3 m) in length. The word philodendron means lover of
plants, indiciating that this plant is an avid tree climber.
The leaves of a young windowleaf are
heart shaped and without holes. They often overlap and cling closely to a tree
trunk, and plants in that stage are called "shingle plants." Older plants
develop the characteristic split and perforated adult leaves that stand away
from the supporting tree trunk. The flowers, which are like huge arum lilies,
appear on short thick stems during the summer if the humidity conditions are
good. The central spadix develops into a cylindrical dark green fruit 8 to 10
inches long and 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
The edible fruit ripens one year after blooming. It is important to wait until
the fruit is ripe, that is that the green rind knocks off easily, to taste it.
Before that the fruit contains enough oxalic acid to be painfully caustic.