Monstera Deliciosa, in my (un)educated guess, is probably (spanish?) for Delicious Monster. And what else would you call a big (foot-long) green, scaly, phallic fruit that's really, actually, delicious?

The scales on a monstera are, on average, hexagonal, with a few irregular ones thrown in. They tesselate in a cool pattern - think unopened pine cone for the swirls - and usually have a little brown dot in the middle. They are green only when unripe. But a ripened one would be unsaleable, and this is why.

To ripen a monstera, hang it upside down in a bag until the scales turn blackish, get smaller (disrupting the pattern) and start falling off. Think vegetable leprosy. The monstera will start to be more pungent-smelling, but don't devour it until it's ripe, because it'll be dry and tasteless, and you might get little dry prickly tastes in your tongue (it's a hard sensation to describe).

Once it's ripe, get some friends so you can show off your weird fruit. But not too many friends, because you'll like this, i almost guarantee. Flake off the scales, and dive in. It's like banana-peach-pineapple-orange-cherimoya-goodness on a stick. (Except without the stick.)

Actually, no matter how exotic it looks, the monstera is the fruit of a relatively common houseplant - the swiss cheese plant (i can't remember the scientific name, i once knew it). Also, it should be known that according to some sources, monstera can cause allergic reactions including prickling in the mouth and throat and swelling of the throat. Not pleasant, but in an unscientific survey of the 20-odd people i've eaten it with, there have been no such reactions. So take your chances. Live on the edge. Woo-hoo!

Monstera is kind of hard to find around New England. It is also the namesake of a club i founded at Bard with a friend, subtitled the Exotic Fruits and Vegetables Club, whose sole purpose was to go down to NY (where they can be found, if you look) and buy fruits such as the monstera and bring them back up to lonely little Annandale-on-Hudson. Strangely, i once saw a monstera in my local Stop & Shop, but only once. It was like a mirage or something, nestled among the waxed unlabeled root vegetables that have come halfway around the world for people to puzzle over. And then it was gone.

Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida 
SubClass: Arecidae 
Order: Arales 
Family: Araceae 

Botanical Name: Monstera deliciosa
Common Name: Delicious Monster
Also known as: Swiss Cheese Plant, Ceriman, Mexican Breadfruit

The term 'Delicious Monster' encompasses a genus of 22 species of tropical, climber plants. Their origin is Mexico and Central America and in their region (the Neotropics) they are among the dominant epiphytes and hemi-epiphytes in the forests.

They are popular as a house plants because of their adaptability (being able to survive in anything from mild and temperate to sub-tropical climates) and large perforated leaves from which the common name is derived.
They are also easily propagated by rooting tip or leaf cuttings in moist, nutrient rich soil in Summer.

Delicious Monsters are known for their strange growing habits and even stranger fruit (from which the official name is borne).

They tend to start life rooted in the ground but soon search out tree trunks to which they attach pencil-thick roots. Once attached to trees they grow toward the light, becoming hemi-ephites. Seedlings, upon germination, will grow in the direction of the darkest surrounding area until they come to the base of a tree or similar supporting structure to grow on. They will then begin to climb toward the light and will continue like this on into adulthood. In many cases an adult Delicious Monster can live in an entirely airborne position.

Delicious Monsters begin bearing fruit after about three years. The cone-shaped, fleshy fruits (which can grow to 9" in length) is actually the flower spike that remains once the flower has been pollinated and has died.

The fruit is covered with hexagonal scales that dry out and separate to reveal a white pulp as it ripens. It can take more than a year for a fruit to ripen so as to be edible.

Unripe fruit may have toxic levels of oxalic acid which causes irritation to the mouth and throat and can cause swelling of the mucous membranes.

The ripe fruit has a pineapple-like flavor (though some characterize it as being closer to banana) and and tends to have a slightly squishy texture which makes eating one quite an endeavor.

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