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Delicious Monsters

Delicious Monsters

In the Devils garden where delicious monster dwell…

There is a tropical plant native to Central America which goes by several names. One of the most colorful nicknames is Monstera Delicisiosa or delicious monster. The monstrous part is not hard to figure out. The unripened fruit of the plant contains oxalic acid. This is reminiscent of the Alien monsters in a Sigourney Weaver movie-acid for blood. The delicious designation comes from the fully matured fruit. When the fruit of the plant is ready to eat, it is said to smell heavenly and to have a flavor reminiscent of fruit salad. A mixture of pineapple and banana.  Some other names for the plant are Mexican Breadfruit and Locusts and Wild Honey.  If you are an adventurous eater there may be a delicious monster in your future.

Another appellation for the delicious monster is Swiss Cheese plant. This tropical plant has deeply lobed leaves that can grow to be two feet wide and three feet long. The mature leaves develop naturally occurring holes throughout the leaf that make it appear that predation by some ravenous insect is occurring. However the holes are natural. These holes lead us naturally to yet another name for the plant, namely the hurricane plant. Some folks with a colorful imagination have speculated that the many holes in the plant increase its ability to survive a hurricane. 

In the wild a Swiss Cheese plant can grow 20 to 30 feet long. The plant is a member of the Arum family and it is an epiphyte or air pant. Such plants tend to grow on other plants and receive nourishment from the air, or dead leaves or insects. 

The only way to get fruit from a Swiss Cheese plant is to either grow it in the wild or in a hothouse. The plant likes a warm, moist environment.  Nonetheless, the Swiss Cheese plant is a popular house plant.  Growing this plant is not a hobby for the careless since its sap can be irritating to the skin.  Like most house plants it should not be over watered. In fact a good hint for many indoor plants is to avoid potting soil if you can because it does not drain well. Use something like vermiculite. In other words, find something that will not hold water close to roots and cause them to rot. 

Although the Swiss Cheese plant bears seeds it is usually propagated through cuttings. If you want to see flowers and get fruit from a Swiss Cheese plant, be prepared to wait for 12 to 14 months. In the wild people wait until the fruit hits the ground to eat it. If you manage to make the plant fruit in a hot house, wait until kernels of the fruit begin to come off of their own accord. The fruit resembles a long green pine cone. You can hasten the ripening of the fruit by covering it in paper, plastic or aluminum foil and letting it sit out at room temperature. The fruit will ripen from the bottom up.   It does not all ripen at the same time. Since some people are allergic or sensitive to the various components of the fruit, eat at your own risk.   You might try asking your doctor if he thinks its safe for you to eat it.

Some other names for the Swiss Cheese plant are Ceriman, split leaved Philodendron, and Japanese Pineapple.

The Swiss Cheese plant has been cultivated in the cloud forests of Vera Cruz. In rain forest countries the long roots of the plant are sometimes braided together to make ropes or baskets. Snake oil salesmen claim the plant is a cure for arthritis and snake bite.