From Eat the Weeds
and Other Things Too website
by Green Deane
Hmm Hmm Good!
Large Delight. That’s what Monstera deliciosa
means…. It was an edible I did not know about until pointed
out to me by my friend Maribou, who has experience in the ornamental
trade. There is always something new to learn in the foraging world.
This is a tropical plant so you won’t find it in the wild
much above Central Florida except in protected places. However it is
one of the most common house and business plants in North America so
keep your eye out for it. (Update three Years Later: Locally some
excellent fruiting examples can be found climbing large oaks in Leu
Gardens in Orlando. In fact, this past January  they survived six
nights of upper 20s F. and are fruiting!)
The Monstera deliciosa
(mawn-STEER-ruh dee-liss-see-OH-suh) is one of several toxic arums that
produce edibles. Just about every member of that family is laced with
needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate called raphides. The crystals
cause a burning sensation during consumption and can actually cause
swelling of the throat leading to suffocation. If the crystals are
swallowed they can also precipitate in the kidneys. Not good. Death
from raphides is extremely rare if ever these days. Many members of the
family can be made edible and some loose part of their toxicity upon
ripening. Such is the case with the
M. deliciosa and a few others.
Also called the “Windowleaf” the M. deliciosa a
popular plant with large glossy leaves that have deep splits. They are
also perforated with oblong holes and are often confused with some
philodendrons. A liana, given a chance it will climb into the tops of
high trees. It rarely branches and can reach more than 70 feet in
length. Young leaves are heart shaped without holes. They cling close
to a tree hence its other name “shingle plant.”
Older leaves, with the slits and holes, also stand away from the tree.
The "monster's" leaf
Around age three the plant flowers. The inflorescent is a
jack-in-the-pulpit like spadix and spathe, think a spike with a flowing
cape around the back of it and above, or a spike with a shield behind
and around part of it. It’s creamy and fleshy with tiny
flowers. The cape is boat-shaped and surrounds the spike, which takes
over a year to mature. It swells into an aromatic fruit (called
Ceriman) that looks like a small green corn cob with hexagonal scales.
When ripe its flavor is like a combination of banana and pineapple.
Unripe it will burn your mouth intensely.
You can ripen the fruit off the plant if you collect it when the
fruit’s first scales begin to lift up and the fruit is very
pungent. Wrap in a paper bag and wait until the kernels begin coming
off. You can then brushed the kernels off revealing the edible flesh
underneath. The flesh is cut from the core like pineapple is and eaten.
Try little first, a little fingernail-size piece. Chew it for a minute
— a full minute even if it dissolves — then spit it
out. Then wait 10 minutes. TEN full minutes, not nine. Ten.
You want to make sure the raphides are gone. If they are in your mouth
will have a burning sensation. (Relax, it will pass in an hour or so.
Sucking on a lemon, or swishing with lemon juice will help.) Eating
immature fruit which still has the kernels firmly attached will
definitely get you a does of raphides. The seeds of the deliciosa are also
edible when cooked or roasted.
Should you be in warm areas of the Americas the fruiting spike of the
dilacerata mawn-STEER-ruh dee-lah-sear-AT-ta) is also
edible (it looks like the M. delisiosa but does not have holes in its
leaves.) The Monstera
pertusa (mawn-STEER-ruh per-TOOS-ah) fruit spike is also
edible and has numerous local names. The fruit spike of the Montrichardia arborescens
(mon-trik-AR-dee-ah ab-or-ESS-ens) is edible as are its cooked or
roasted seeds. An article in the Journal of Economic Botany says root
is also eaten but I do not know how they prepare it to get rid of the
raphides. Dry heat is usually the way. The M. arborescens has
other uses as well. The fibers in the stem are used for cordage, the
berries and fruiting spike used for fish bait, and the tissue in the
stem can be used to make paper.
Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile
Huge, dark green, deeply-lobed, leathery leaves up to a yard long and
wide, long stems, growing on a vine up to 70 feet long. Blossom is a
large cream-colored spadix and spathe. Blooms around age three.
Time of year:
Usually blossoms in warm months
Grows in the shade, climbs trees.
Preparation: When fruit begins to lose scales, take off
plant and ripen in paper bag. When you can brush the kernels off it is
ready to eat but try a little first to make sure it is rid of raphides.
Disclaimer from Green Deane
Information contained on this website is strictly and
categorically intended as a reference to be used in conjunction with
experts in your area. Foraging should never begin without the guidance
and approval of a local plant specialist. The providers of this website
accept no liability for the use or misuse of information contained in