Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Gene Joyner

The Monster in Your Garden

The delicious monster, Monstera deliciosa, is sometimes called ceriman, and is a popular fruit grown throughout the warm regions of the world. Monstera is a vigorous climbing vine in the Aroid family and native to Central America, primarily Mexico. It has thick stems and large, heart-shaped leaves which can be 3 feet long or more and over 2 feet wide. The leaves are deeply lobed and perforated with large holes near the center. These holes appear only as the leaf matures and when Monstera is grown indoors the leaf characteristics can be very different form an outside plant.

Flowers appear on short thick stems several times a year, especially during the summer. They are typically aroid blooms that resemble huge arum lilies. The central spadix is 8 to 10 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide, and it is this that develops into the dark green cylindrical fruit which looks somewhat like an unshucked ear of corn. The fruit is long in developing and may take 12 to 14 months to ripen.

The fruit is an aggregate, much like pineapple or sugar apple (Annona squamosa), and the outer green covering is arranged in hexagonal plates which turn yellow and separate as the fruit ripens. The separation on ripening exposes the soft, white edible pulp underneath. The flavor of the pulp resembles a mixture of banana and pineapple. Only small sections of the fruit will ripen each day, but if you want a more even ripening, refrigerate the fruit for 24 hours then allow it to come to room temperature.

Eaten fresh, the fruit is delicious, and it is also a fine ingredient in salads and ice cream.

Some Monstera fruits contain high levels of calcium oxalate crystals that are extremely irritating to the throat. Only ripe fruit should be eaten and it will also help to rinse off the fruit for easier eating.

Monstera can be propagated by seed or cuttings. Cuttings will produce fruit more quickly and are more desirable in the landscape than seedlings. The vines grow rapidly under good cultivation and should be located in areas with medium to high levels of sunlight. The should be fertilized with a complete fertilizer.

When grown outdoors, monsteras are often allowed to grow on trees, walls or other structures that can support their weight. They can scramble on the ground but prefer to climb.

Plants need to be protected from severely cold weather and will be badly injured if temperatures drop below 28° F ..

 When grown as house plants cerimans can be mounted on tree fern plaques, or cypress boards. Few of these plants when grown indoors will receive high enough levels of light to produce fruit.

Monsteras have few pest problems and rarely, if ever, need to be sprayed.

There are no named varieties of Monstera in the nursery trade. Individual plants may have larger fruit or fruit with fewer seed. These plants should be propagated and increased by vegetative propagation, so that these desirable characteristics will not be lost. There are several monsteras with variegated foliage. One has white/green variegation while another has yellow/cream marbling. Both produce variegated fruit with creamy yellow or white swirls. They are very attractive novelty plants that are quite hard to fine. The fruit is as good as the green forms.

Monstera won't tolerate poorly drained soil, and it is important to have excellent drainage,especially during the rainy season. Cerimans don't tolerate excessive salt spray, so keep these delicious monsters well away for exposure along the waterfront.

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Joyner, G. "The Monster in Your Garden." Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council. May 1993. Page 9. Web. 17 Jan. 2017.

Published 17 Jan. 2017 LR
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