15 Insightful Monstera Facts That Previously Hidden

Who doesn’t know about Monstera? This tropical plant is a favorite of plant lovers because it has unique fenestrated leaves, which become its characteristics. Besides that, it grows all year, providing greenery wherever it resides. But it turns out that Monstera has many mysteries yet to be discovered? That’s why we are here to reveal some of the most insightful Monstera facts that previously remained unknown!

We will talk about the most popular Monstera Deliciosa, Monstera Adansonii, Monstera Obliqua, and many other species you barely know. But now, let’s start with how the Monstera plant was first discovered. And for other Monstera facts that are no less astonishing, you can check them in the following sections!

Awesome Facts About Monstera Plant

1. Firstly Found in 1693

Nowadays, we are more familiar with Monstera Deliciosa. This plant is characterized by large, dark green leaves with striking fenestration (holes) from the veins through the edges. It also has aerial roots that are beneficial to support the plants climbing on the trees in their native habitat. But did you know that the first Monstera species found was not Monstera Deliciosa?

monstera facts
Monstera Deliciosa

The Monstera plant was first mentioned in western literature by French botanist Charles Plumier, in 1693. And that was, surprisingly, Monstera Adansonii despite the fact that he did not know the name then. The text clearly described the leaf structure, inflorescence, root dimorphism, and the benefits of the plant to treat snake bites.

Linnaeus then cited these characteristics as the common background for Dracontium Pertusum L. in 1753, later known as a synonym of Monstera Adansonii. Due to these facts, we can safely say that Monstera Adansonii is the oldest Monstera in the world! Compared to Monstera Deliciosa, these Monstera leaves are smaller, growing about 6 to 8 feet tall and 2 feet wide. The variegated leaves are more round, while Monstera Deliciosa are long and tend to split the foliage.

2. Produce Tasty and Nutritious Fruits

Besides being grown for stunning foliage, some people want to harvest Monstera fruits. Among all species, Monstera Deliciosa is the only one that can produce delicious, exotic edible fruits. In fact, people describe the aroma and taste as similar to a mixture of banana, pineapple, guava, and strawberry. Their strong aroma comes from volatile compounds, including ethyl butanoate and linalool. They also have a juicy texture with a bit of crunch to it. Can you imagine how tasty they are?

Furthermore, these tropical fruits are rich in nutrients. A study stated that Monstera fruits are loaded with water (87.8%) and carbohydrates (9.4%). Thus, they are juicy and sweet. But the good news is that fruits are low in fat, accounting for 0.6% per 100 grams, a perfect choice for those cutting calories.

Moreover, they contain abundant essential minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and sodium. In addition, vitamin C is dominated by the content of this fruit, approximately 9 mg / 100 g. It was mentioned that eating one fruit per day can fully fill 25% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.

3. Can Grow Giant Leaves In Nature

Some Monstera species have a medium size, for example, Monstera Adansonii, which only reaches 8 feet tall with 2 feet spread. However, that’s a different case with Monstera deliciosa. It features large, dark green leaves, holding on long stiffs whose petioles can comprise 2 to 3 feet long.

monstera facts
Giant Monstera Leaves

Meanwhile, the width of the leaves can grow over 3 feet wide in nature. Contrary, most of the species will grow smaller than Monstera in nature. This is because they adapt to their surroundings where there are no tall trees to climb on. Remember to prepare support, like a trellis or cane, if you have a potted one due to its crawling habit.

4. Four New Species Discovered

Prior to this discovery, many scientists argued that Costa Rica has the most diverse Monstera species in the world. There were around 32 species found and recognized in the country. However, recently, a group of researchers who explored the forests of Panama from 2016-2019 discovered an astonishing fact. In the thick of the warm tropical forest, four Monstera species have never been identified before. They are Monstera Bocatorensis, Monstera Donosoensis, Monstera Gigas, and Monstera titanium.

These experts previously thought that the only Monstera that can bear fruits is Monstera Deliciosa. But, this discovery proved that Monstera Bocatorensis also produced fruits despite the fact that its edibility remains unknown yet. Instead of heart-shaped, rounded leaves, this Monstera highlights more oblong leaves with fenestrations that bisect the leaves. They almost seem like split banana leaves.

Similar to it, Monstera Donosoensis also has fruits whose kernels look sharper compared to Monstera Deliciosa. And the most shocking one is that the scientists discovered the largest Monstera ever, the Monstera Gigas, which we will talk about later.

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5. Monstera Adansonii Shows Antioxidant Activity

Plants are known as natural sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are beneficial in warding off free radicals and preventing various degenerative diseases. Therefore, research on its content in various plants is increasingly massive. But unfortunately, there are still few scientific publications that report on antioxidant activity in Monstera. It means that research on Monstera has less interest compared to others.

monstera facts
Monstera Adansonii

Fortunately, a 2014 study managed to identify antioxidant activity in Monstera Adansonii. It showed that the activity reached 89.84%. Also, phenolic acid contributed to antioxidant activity and was found to be around 10.34 mg/g. These phenols help prevent cell damage, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents. Of course, this discovery has the potential to make Monstera Adansonii a source of novel antioxidants for drug use.

6. The Largest Montera On Earth!

It may be one of the most exciting Monstera facts you must know! Recently, scientists were shocked by the discovery of a new type of Monstera that happened to be the largest one on earth. This rare Monstera was then given the name Monstera Gigas, according to its jumbo size. Monstera Gigas were initially discovered by several researchers exploring the tropical forests of Panama around 2016-2019.

Unlike the variegated Monstera we know, Monstera Gigas don’t have unique holes on the leaves. In fact, they are more like banana leaves with a length of about 2-3 meters per leaf. With such a vast leaf, don’t be surprised if the leaves can spread around 11 meters in diameter.

Moreover, the Monstera flowers are about 34-38.5 cm long and 1.7-2.2 cm wide. What a giant tropical plant! Upon further investigation, the species is endemic to Panama, particularly only growing around Lake Fortuna at an altitude of 1200-1300 meters in the Premontane rain forests.

7. Most Parts Are Toxic

Despite being a stunning tropical plant, it is often a favorite choice for plant collectors. Still, you must be aware of its toxicity. In general, most Monstera parts are toxic, especially the leaves. They contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms if ingested. These crystals have sharp shapes, which usually hide in bundles called raphides.

Initial symptoms after swallowing these crystals may be limited to burning mouth and throat, swollen lips, and tongue. If left untreated, it can lead to severe conditions, such as difficulty breathing, swallowing, speaking, and copious salivation. Some rare signs that may appear are nausea and gastrointestinal upset.

Furthermore, the fruits may have similar reactions if you eat them unripe. So, make sure they are really ripe before you harvest them. Some of the characteristics of ripe Monstera fruits are that the kernels fall off easily when you peel them, it emits a strong sweet scent, and the texture is soft. The ripe one only contains 0.41% of oxalic acid. Hence, it is safe to eat.

8. The Smallest Monstera Plant

While we have been talking about Monstera facts, including the largest Monstera, it would be perfect to fit the smallest one in the list of most insightful facts about Monstera. Monstera minima were originally founded by Monstera Madison in 1977. Like Monstera Gigas, it is also endemic to Panama, mainly the Caribbean coast.

monstera facts
Monstera Plant in Pot

However, the size differs significantly from the Monstera Gigas and even the common Monstera Deliciosa we know. The stems are about 20-30 cm long. Meanwhile, the leaves are 9-14 cm long and 2-4 cm wide with no fenestration, having a dark green and semi-glossy appearance on the surface. In addition, the lower parts are pale green. It also bears flowers, with 16-18 cm long and 3-4 mm diameter peduncle and spathe 6.5-7.5 cm long, 3.2-4.0 cm wide. Moreover, the white spadix is around 4.4 cm long and 0.9-1 cm in diameter.

9. May Have Potential To Treat Cancer

We may only appreciate Monstera as a popular and stunning foliage plant with characteristic fenestrated leaves that other tropical plants do not have. But apparently, this beautiful plant hides a hidden potential that has recently been uncovered by researchers. A recent 2022 study stated that Monstera Deliciosa roots have cytotoxic activities that have the opportunity to prevent and treat various types of cancer.

Moreover, 14 compounds show cytotoxic activity, including syringaresinol, beta-sitosterol, and oleanolic acid. The results found that all these chemicals can prevent and treat liver, larynx, breast, and colon cancers.

However, the syringaresinol contributed the highest in beating the cancer cells, whereas beta-sitosterol exerts anti-hepatocellular cancer activity. This finding was the first one that, in detail, showed the potential of the roots of Monstera Deliciosa for cancer treatment.

10. Produce Gigantic Flowers

Fun facts about the recent discovery of four species found in Panama in 2016-2019, two of which broke the world record. The Monstera Gigas is the biggest, while MonsteraTitanium produces gigantic flowers you’ve never seen before. Monstera Titanium features 50-95 cm long petioles, having dark green color with tiny white dots. The size of the leaves reaches 47-100 x 28-35 cm.

Deliciosa Gigantic Flowers
Monstera Flowers

Unlike the Monstera Gigas, it has pretty small fenestrations measuring about 0.5-5.5 x 0.5-3.5 cm at the top and around 9-14.5 x 1.7-3 cm at the bottom. Meanwhile, the giant flowers are supported by 25-48 cm smooth peduncles with white spathe sizes reaching 16.5-47 x 10-20 cm, approximately 10 cm longer than the spadix. The scientist mentioned that the size is more significant than an adult human head.

Unfortunately, you can’t witness its beauty in the local nursery as it is endemic to Panama. Particularly along the Altos del Maria, Valle of Anton, and the border of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro provinces, at 1450-1480 meters elevation in the Premontane rainforest.

11. Fenestrated Leaves Are Monstera Survival Mode

People appreciate Monstera because of their striking variegation with exotic holes, which are the main characteristics. Those holes are caused by the fenestration process that occurs when Monstera is at least two years old. But it turns out those fenestrated leaves have another goal: survival. How come?

In its natural habitat, namely tropical rainforests in South and Central America, Monstera deliciosa grows under tree canopies. They climb on the branches of tall trees to get sunlight. Besides that, the crawling also allows them to capture more water, thanks to the holes in the leaves. 

A study revealed that Monstera leaves with fenestration can absorb more water as the water can easily escape the foliage to the ground. In addition, those holes also reduce damage from strong winds, even though the impact isn’t significant. Another report also mentioned that leaf fenestration helps adult Monstera deliciosa to absorb more light.

12. They Are Hemiepiphytes

Not many people know that Monstera is a hemiepiphytes. It is understandable since most of us grow Monstera in the ground in our garden or potted indoors. But what actually are hemiepiphytes?

Epiphytes refer to organisms that grow attached to trees to help them get enough sunlight, air circulation, and water. But they are not parasites. Some examples are orchids and bromeliads. Meanwhile, hemiepiphytes spend most of their lives on the trees to survive. In its natural habitat, half of Monstera lifespan will be spent climbing on trees with the help of aerial roots. These roots will develop as Monstera ages. Another benefit of aerial roots is that they allow better access to sunlight and water.

Monstera in The Greenhouse
Monstera in The Greenhouse

Furthermore, they will get thicker as Monstera creeps due to the hydraulic pressure increases. On the other hand, those grown in pots will also have aerial roots. Therefore, you must prepare support once they appear to allow your Monstera to climb on it.

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13. Different Pollination Pattern Between Species

If you grow Monstera plants at home, you probably help them pollinate. Usually, you will need to rub the pollen onto the female parts (stamens) at night, when they are mostly reproducing. Nonetheless, this is the uniqueness of Monstera pollination. Those Monstera species that grow in the wild need the help of pollinators to do so. Meanwhile, some are self-pollinated, like Monstera deliciosa that grows in your home.

In nature, Monstera Deliciosa requires bees to pollinate. Their fertile flowers produce gums that attract Trigona bees. These bees will then carry the gums in the body to make their nests. At the same time, pollen that accidentally sticks to their bodies will help pollinate Monstera flowers.

However, that’s a different case in Monstera Obliqua. A study found that the pollination still occurs without the gums. The tiny beetles act as pollinators for this Monstera species. Instead of gums, the flowers produce a sweet scent during the 48-hour flowering cycle, which the beetles invite to visit.

Besides that, Monstera Obliqua flowers also create a chamber where pollinators are used to kill and take shelter. Moreover, the flowers are then released pollen which will further be consumed and spread by the pollinators when they take flight. Unlike Monstera Deliciosa, Monstera Obliqua cannot self-pollinate due to the temporal separation of sexes.

14. Treat Snakebites

Ancient people often used the plants around them to survive. Not only eat these plants, but they also often use them as natural remedies. One of them is Monstera. Some reports mention that Martiniques used Monstera roots to treat snakebites, while the root and leaves mixture could cure arthritis in Mexico. How can it be?

Deliciosa Leaves benefits
Monstera Leaves

Well, it all makes sense. The leaves and rhizomes of Monstera contain antioxidant activity, which has the potential for wound healing thanks to its antibacterial properties. According to a 2014 study, Monstera Adansonii possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is due to the presence of phenolic acids, which accounted for 10.34 mg/g.

It is also followed by a 2022 finding, mentioning that the cytotoxic activity in Monstera rhizome has the potential to prevent and treat several types of cancers. The leaf extract also showed very mild mortality for cancer patients. In addition, strong antioxidant activities were also recorded from the Monstera Deliciosa leaves (77.87μg/ml).

15. Europeans Cultivated Monstera in 1840s

Monstera plants are native to southern Mexico all the way through Panama. These exotic plants were first discovered in 1693. Prior to their spread in the early 1840s, native people of Mexico and Panama were familiar with the delicious Monstera fruits. They usually eat them as milkshakes or desserts.

In 1849, Frederik Michael Liebmann mentioned that the fruits were widely sold in the local markets. Now the question is, how can Monstera Deliciosa spread to mainland Europe?

A report showed that it was in 1832 that Wilhelm Friederich von Karwinsky collected the herbarium specimen from Mexico before sending it to Munich. Then, in 1840 Frederik Michael Liebmann took the live plant from Oaxaca, Mexico, to be sent to Copenhagen.

Meanwhile, Josef Ritter von Warszewicz collected the live plant for cultivation in Berlin Botanic Gardens in 1849. Fast forward to 1858, when the plant was bearing fruit in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, the United Kingdom.

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Final Thoughts

The Monstera plants we know for their unique fenestrated leaves have many other interesting things to discover. Even though not many studies have revealed more about its potential, at least we know that they are more than tropical plants.

In fact, so far, Monstera is known to have the potential as a source of antioxidants that can cure various diseases. They also possess cytotoxic activities to treat cancers. The discovery of Monstera species is no less astonishing. In fact, now, researchers are still exploring tropical forests in Panama and Mexico to find hidden, untouched species.

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