Often known when a juvenile as
The juvenile form
is often known as Monstera friedrichsthalii
(same species, other
Dracontium pertusum L., Monstera ecuadorensis
Engl. & K. Krause,
Monstera friedrichsthalii Schott, Monstera imrayana
Monstera jacquini Schott, Monstera macrophylla Schott,
Monstera pertusa (L.) de Vriese, Tornelia laniata
had a nice little Monstera in my collection for many years
which I have known as Monstera friedrichsthalii. Plant
collecting friend Russ Hammer in Florida has a very large aroid
collection and in the summer of 2006 sent a photo of a plant I would
have sworn was Monstera friedrichsthalii. The problem was
that specimen was much larger than the 15 to 20cm (6 to 8 inch) size
I had been led to believe was the maximum blade size for M.
The leaf blades of his plant ranged up to
67cm (26 inches). When I went to TROPICOS (a service of the
Missouri Botanical Garden) that scientific site indicated the name
Monstera friedrichsthalii was a synonym for Monstera
adansonii. So, as I often do, I asked for a clarification from
aroid botanist Dr. Tom Croat of the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Dr.
Croat promptly came back with this quote:
is a synonym of M. adansonii and the leaves can get up to about 65
cm long (26 inches) but I rarely see blades in the field which are
more than 50 cm long."
is basically the same plant (see list above), simply another name.
The plant I knew as M.
friedrichsthalii is truly a juvenile form of Monstera
adansonii! Like many others in
my collection, Monstera friedrichsthalii was not
precisely what I thought! And according to aroid expert Dr. Croat
it is capable of growing much larger than I previously assumed and
most websites state!
The genus Monstera is a
relatively small group of 41 scientifically recognized Neotropical
species found naturally only in Mexico, Central and South America.
There are Asian species with fenestrations (holes), but those are
members of a separate genus known as Scindapsus. As you can
see from the list of synonym names above, Monstera
adansonii has also been known by quite a few scientific names,
and many of those names were given by one botanist. That occurred
due to the unique fact this species is extremely variable and morphs
as it grows. Very simply, it changes in appearance!
plant has confused botanists for close to 175 years! But please
understand, each name is still scientifically accurate. But the
accepted name is Monstera adansonii.
The species is
known to be variable and not every leaf of every plant will look
exactly alike! This link will give you an easy to understand
explanation of the natural variation within plant species:
First described to science in 1830,
Monstera adansonii, (which
is a Philodendron relative, but not a Philodendron) is
a good reason why I don't like common names for plants. The common
name for this plant is "Swiss Cheese plant". Sound familiar?
Monstera deliciosa is also commonly called the Swiss Cheese
plant. And there is no telling how many other plants with
fenestrations (holes in their leaves) have the same common name!
The scientific term "fenestration" comes from the Latin word for
"window", thus "holes". Monstera adansonii
(ad-an-SON-e-eye) is the source for more
than a little confusion
The species has 19 synonym names,
different scientific names for the same plant! That happens because
more than one (sometimes the same) botanist finds the plant in a
different growth form or size and attempts to grant it a new name
due to variation within the species! Some sites indicate the name
Monstera obliqua is also a synonym. At one time I was led to
believe that was also correct, but that information cannot be
scientifically verified. Dr. Croat commented in a personal email
received in December, 2007,
hope that this is not too discouraging but Monstera is a difficult
genus and single species can sometimes be so variable as to appear
like several species depending on how they are grown. Blade shape
alone is useless. I suspect that epidermal patterns, colors of
dried stems and petioles are more valuable as characters. I am not
sure the spadices alone would help much but overall aspects of the
inflorescences are useful." In the same email he corrected the misinformation and confirmed
Monstera obliqua is a completely different species.
Monstera adansonii is
a native of the Amazonian region of Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. When
small it is often sold on eBay as a Philodendron, and it is
certainly a relative, but this one is legitimately a Monstera.
M. adansonii loves to run when small, and climb when larger.
The species prefers bright filtered sunlight. Some growers insist
it should be allowed to dry between watering, we have not found that
to be necessary and water it right along with all our other
Philodendron, Monstera and Anthurium sp. at normal rain
forest rates which is basically wet, especially during the summer!
Since it is a resident of some of the wettest rain forest in South
America it would not appear to need periods of dryness.
This note arrived from Dr. Croat on June 23, 2008 and was posted to
the entire Aroid l group,
acuminata is a distinct Central American species and M. oblique is a
distinct species ranging from Central America to South America but
M. friedrichsthalii is a synonym of M. adansonii. However, plants of
mistaken determination labeled M. friedrichsthalii were actually M.
siltepecana. What was called Monstera pertusa for years is actually
M. adansonii but if I am not mistaken the type of that plant is a
Rhaphidophora from Asia. Monstera "pertusa" never had anything to do
with M. deliciosa."
We have grown Monstera adansonii
at more than 5 locations in the atrium plus. As a result, most of
the leaves of most of our plants have remained relatively small
because they are running rather than climbing. The blades
of our largest specimen are well over 60cm (two feet), approaching
75cm (2.5 feet).
species are aroids and reproduce via the production of a spathe and
spadix which is often called a "flower". The true flowers are very
small and are located along the spadix. The spathe is not a flower
but is instead a modified
leaf whose purpose is to provide
protection to the spadix at its center.
Monstera differ from Philodendron species since all
Monstera produce perfect flowers containing both male and
female organs while Philodendron produce imperfect flowers
containing only a single sex. When an
Monstera is "in flower" the reference is to the tiny flowers
containing both male and female sexual parts that grow on the spadix
at the center of the inflorescence. To help prevent self pollination nature has
designed the female flowers to be receptive before the male portion of
produce their pollen so in most cases an insect must bring pollen from
another plant. For more information on the sexual reproduction of
any aroid click the pollination link below.
The spadix attracts
pollinating beetles when ready to reproduce at
anthesis by producing a "perfume" known as a pheromone but is also
thought by French pollination researcher Marc Gibernau to produce a
visual attractant using infrared heat which the beetles can "see"
with sensors that are likely on the end of their antennae. Their
eyes are apparently not sensitive to the "runway" glow emitted by an
aroid in the dark of the forest but the antennae can "see" this
visual attractant at 20 meters (65 feet) or more. The spathe of
Monstera adansonii can grow quite large (approximately 73cm or 9
inches) and is white in color while the spadix is pale green. For
additional information on aroid pollination
click this link.
One internet discussion group seems
to be quite disturbed with botanists who have "changed the name" of
this species. Perhaps a bit of explanation is deserved. In 1830
botanist Schott went into the field and found a plant which he named
Monstera adansonii. And again in 1854 Schott went back into
the field and found a plant he felt was different and named it
Both turned out upon further
scientific examination to be exactly the same plant! So why the
confusion? Aroids often have different growth forms known as
Think of it as different faces. All humans are the
same species, but we all have different body shapes and faces. That
is the problem with aroids. They often look quite different, but
once researched by a qualified scientist are found to be a single
species. The determining factor is the inflorescence. In this
case, all three of these "species" have the same inflorescence
(spathe and spadix). Therefore, they are the same species. And the
rules of botany give the prize to the oldest published name. So the
name has not been frivolously changed, it has simply been researched
and determined the first name Schott gave is the winner of the
prize. That name becomes the basionym while the others become
synonyms. Again, please take the time to read the discussion on
natural variation within aroid species. You will be able to
approach the subject with a much greater understanding of how names
originate, sometimes must be replaced with the correct name as well
as understanding how species are variable as well as morph:
We use extremely well drained soil
with a lot of peat, Perlite, and orchid bark containing charcoal,
gravel and bark mixed into the potting mixture to retain moisture.
On the advice of the research greenhouse keepers at the Missouri
Botanical Garden we are also now adding small pieces of long strand
sphagnum moss and additional horticultural charcoal along with
cypress mulch. In July 2006 Russ sent a cutting with three
Our large Monstera adansonii is
hanging at the 12 foot level (four meters) potted in a
hanging basket with a tall totem to climb. The specimen has added
numerous leaves as well as many long vines which look exactly like the
plant we have previously known as Monstera friedrichsthalii.
with the exception of the most juvenile leaves which are simply
cordate (heart shaped). As a result of the juvenile
leaves collectors often believe their cutting is a Philodendron
species which is incorrect.
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