Published in Eumundi Green Issue 189

Life on a Better Ridge Monster Monsterio

Monstera deliciosa, monsterio, monsterio delicio, fruit salad plant or Mexican breadfruit, are a few of the many names this big, glossy-leafed tropical plant has been given. Regardless of what it is called, it is a much-loved companion on out property.

Native to Central America, it grows easily in our hinterland climate, and we have dedicated large areas of our property to its cultivation. Although here on The Ridge we have this plant sprawling along the ground in large garden beds, it is actually a climbing epiphyte and in rainforest habitat, will grow up to 20 metres high.

Adapting to life high in the canopy, the monsterio is the only plant to possess naturally occurring holes in its leaves. This adaptation allows light and breeze to filter through, an important feature when you are an epiphyte and rely on the air and sun for your nutrients.

It is for this feature that the plant is sometimes referred to as ‘windowleaf’. It is also one of the many qualities that have made the shiny, deep green foliage a firm favourite for indoor decoration and as a symbol of all things ‘tropical’. It’s not all decorating with lush leaves here on The Ridge though, the fruit it bears is a divine addition to our cornucopia. It has a mix of flavours (hence one of its common names – the fruit salad fruit). When you concentrate, you can taste pineapple, jackfruit, a little kiwi perhaps, but it’s essentially pretty hard to discriminate one flavour from another. I think the best I have come up with is that it actually tastes a lot like Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

The other additional benefit (if you happen to be looking for it) is that, when consumed in slightly more than moderate quantities, it has very fast-acting laxative properties – perhaps it is for this reason that it ripens slowly (from the top-down). As the outer scales of the fruit naturally fall off a small amount of flesh, shaped like individual hexagonal pellets, can be easily pried off and consumed.

Given the size of our property and the number of plants we have here, we routinely have a glut of mosterios. Unlike the eat-as-much-as-you-can-or-they’ll-go-bad feasts of other fruits we have from time to time, we are much more restrained with this species. If we have more than we can share around, we freeze the pellets for bite-sized treats or tasty detoxes throughout the year.