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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Swiss cheese plant has elephant ear shaped leaves

By Staff | Dec 30, 2015

The Monstera delicious is also known as the Swiss cheese plant because of the teardrop shaped holes in its leaves. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

First impression: Dramatic, exotic, supersized dark green, elephant ear shaped leaves. These monstrous leaves are split at the ends and have teardrop shaped holes all over. Ok, yes these aerated leaves remind me of Swiss cheese! You can’t miss these gynormous Swiss cheese like leaves and their pulpit like flowers climbing their way to the tippy top at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Monstera deliciosa is a show stopper, when blooming or non blooming there is no passing it by with out a closer look! It is a fast growing vine that can climb up a tree quickly. Native to Central America, it is perfect for our temperatures of dry climates and coastal areas.

You may plant in filtered sun or shade close to any large canopied tree or pergola. Here in paradise it climbs high (up to 30 ft) into its host trees canopy attaching to the trunk and branches with its long semi-epiphytic roots. No worries, epiphytes do not harm their host plants, they use them for support and nutrient runoff. As its foliage grows up, the aerial roots grow downward out of a thick stem and take root where they touch the ground.

Its leaves are super large, shiny dark green and shaped like ruffled elephant ears. The name Swiss cheese plant is because the leaves have natural holes all through them. They are quite identifiable and dimensional. The spectacular flowers are upright and remind me of creamy white cattails. Each spadix (flower) is hooded by a lovely creamy smooth spathe. The flower takes about one year to mature into a peculiar fruit (Ceriman) that looks a little like a slender green corn cob. An important warning: only ripe fruit can be consumed, unripe fruit and all other parts of this plant are poisonous. Central Americans and savvy gardeners have passed on a few secrets, but I would not try eating this fruit from your garden, unless advised and sanctioned by an expert. When I tasted them in Argentina they reminded me of the texture of banana and taste of pineapple.

The Monstera delicious is also known as the Swiss cheese plant because of the teardrop shaped holes in its leaves. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

You can imagine our star growing all over in the rainforest. It’s fruit is well known and utilized by Central America daily. In days gone by they used the plants medicinal qualities for snake bites and arthritis. Today we enjoy them as super sized Swiss cheesed foliage that will surprise us with exotic, whimsical flowers.

Pros:

Unique pulpit bloom

Super sized leaves

Likes filtered sun or shade

May get the urge to yodel

Will add interest with large foliage

Needs little attention

Enjoy telling friends the plants name

Cons:

Can be aggressive grower

Neighbors may be stealing cutting to start their own

Warning; Don’t eat unripe poisonous fruits

Non native

Cold sensitive

Neighbors might not enjoy your yodeling

Conclusion: Yodel-layde-hoo ! You don’t have to visit the Alps to get a look at our Swiss Cheese Plant.

Even though there’s no snow or mountains, it may inspire you to yodel-layde-hoo, in our tropical garden. Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!