Monstera Adans.
  • Fam. Pl. 2: 470 (1763) 

Notes: , nom. cons. Distribution: Mexico to Trop. America

General Description

Appressed hemiepiphytic climbers or vines; juvenile plants terrestrial with elongate internodes and mostly ovate blades, greatly modified when climbing, sometimes tightly appressed to climbed surface (shingle leaves); preadult plants with shorter internodes, usually climbing or pendent, the result of branching or reversion to preadult phase from adult foliage; adult plants usually appressed climbers with short internodes, sometimes scandent; caudices often somewhat flattened on one side, densely rooting at the nodes, usually on the flattened surface only; roots usually slender; petioles amplexicaule, sheathed 1/6 to throughout; sheath persistent or deciduous; blades membranaceous to coriaceous, mostly ovate to oblong-elliptic, often oblique and inequilateral, entire or pinnatifid, frequently fenestrate in 1-4 series per side; midrib sunken above, raised below; primary lateral veins sunken above, prominently raised and whitish below; interprimary veins straight or branched especially toward the margins; tertiary veins distinct; INFLORESCENCES much shorter than the leaves, 1-several per axil; peduncle shorter or longer than the spathe; spathe deciduous, coriaceous, caviform, orbicular to naviculiform, usually white to pinkish or yellowish; spadix sessile, white to yellow, cylindroid, usually sterile at the base. Flowers densely aggregated in several spirals, perfect, naked, protogynous; stamens 4, extrorse, the pollen emerging in viscid threads; pistils oblong, prismatic, truncate at apex; style conical, the stigma linear, curved or straight. INFRUCTESCENCE green, white, yellow or orange, the stylar portion of the berries deciduous to expose the seeds; seeds globose to oblong, the raphe S-shaped by curvature of the seed in development; testa brown and soft, the embryo macropodial, green or blue. Species ca. 60,

HABIT : evergreen climbing herbs. LEAVES : distichous, juvenile leaves sometimes of shingle plant form, rarely variegated. PETIOLE : geniculate apically, sheath usually long, persistent or decomposing to fibrous or membranous mass or entirely deciduous. BLADE : entire, oblique, oblong to ovate-elliptic, often conspicuously and elaborately perforated, more rarely deeply pinnatifid; primary lateral veins pinnate, running into marginal vein, rarely forming an irregular submarginal collective vein (M. obliqua), secondary laterals often parallel-pinnate, sometimes reticulated (e.g. M. dubia), higher order venation reticulate. INFLORESCENCE : 1-several in each floral sympodium. PEDUNCLE : shorter than petiole. SPATHE : ovate or oblong-ovate, cuspidate, boat-shaped and somewhat convolute basally, white to rose-coloured within, remaining open after anthesis, caducous. SPADIX : sessile, subcylindric, somewhat shorter than spathe. FLOWERS : bisexual, perigone absent, lowermost flowers usually sterile. STAMENS : 4, filaments flattened, connective slender, thecae oblong-ellipsoid, dehiscing by longitudinal slit. POLLEN : fully zonate, hamburger-shaped, medium-sized (mean 48 µm, range 40-52 µm), exine densely foveolate to subreticulate, sparsely and shallowly foveolate or psilate, apertural exine verrucate or rugulate. STERILE FLOWERS : with 4 minute, conic staminodia, pistillode 2-locular, prismatic, lacking ovules. GYNOECIUM : obovoid to ellipsoid, prismatic, ovary 2-locular, ovules 2 per locule, anatropous, funicle short, placenta axile at base of septum; stylar region often massive, broader than ovary, apex truncate to shortly attenuate, stigma oblong-elliptic to linear (in the sense of the spadix axis). BERRY : 1-3-seeded, shedding prismatic stylar region at maturity, pulpy within. SEED : obovoid to ellipsoid, compressed, testa smooth, embryo large, endosperm absent.

Diagnostic Description

Climbing hemiepiphytes with trichosclereids abundant in all tissues; petiole geniculate apically, sheath long, persistent to deciduous; leaves distichous; leaf blade with the two sides usually unequal, fine venation from parallel-pinnate to reticulate; spathe deciduous after flowering; flowers bisexual, perigone absent; ovaries 2-locular. Differs from from Stenospermation and Rhodospatha in more diverse leaf shape, usually perforated or pinnatifid or sometimes both, seeds globose to oblong, 6-22 mm long, endosperm absent and 2 ovules per locule.


Tropical moist and humid forest, cloud forest; climbing hemiepiphytes, usually on tree trunks, also on rocks or ground (M. deliciosa).


Mexico to Trop. America.

Mexico to Brazil and Bolivia.

Distribution Map

  • Native distribution
  • Introduced distribution
Found in
  • Northern America Mexico Mexico Central
  • Mexico Gulf
  • Mexico Northeast
  • Mexico Southeast
  • Mexico Southwest
  • Southern America Brazil Brazil North
  • Brazil Northeast
  • Brazil South
  • Brazil Southeast
  • Brazil West-Central
  • Caribbean Leeward Is.
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • Trinidad-Tobago
  • Windward Is.
  • Central America Belize
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Nicaragua
  • Panamá
  • Northern South America French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela
  • Western South America Bolivia
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
Introduced into
  • Africa Middle Atlantic Ocean Ascension
  • Western Indian Ocean Seychelles
  • Pacific South-Central Pacific Society Is.
  • Southern America Caribbean Puerto Rico


  • 1 Mayo, S.J. & Andrade, I.M. Monstera of Bahia - Basic Data Matrix . (2014).
  • 2 Mayo, S.Joseph & Andrade, I.M. A morphometric and taxonomic study of Monstera (Araceae) in Bahia, Brazil. Feddes Repertorium 124, 24 p. (2014).
  • 3 Govaerts, R. & Frodin, D.G. (2002). World Checklist and Bibliography of Araceae (and Acoraceae): 1-560. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 4 Gardens, K.""Royal Bot World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. (2008).
  • 5 Mayo, S.J., Bogner, J. & Boyce, P.C. The Genera of Araceae. (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew: 1997).

 Information From

CATE Araceae
Haigh, A., Clark, B., Reynolds, L., Mayo, S.J., Croat, T.B., Lay, L., Boyce, P.C., Mora, M., Bogner, J., Sellaro, M., Wong, S.Y., Kostelac, C., Grayum, M.H., Keating, R.C., Ruckert, G., Naylor, M.F. and Hay, A., CATE Araceae, 14 Dec 2011 . 17 Dec 2011.
  • A All Rights Reserved
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
  • B All Rights Reserved
eMonocot. (2010, 1st November). Retrieved Wednesday, 8th February, 2012, from
  • C Content licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
WCSP 2014. 'World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2011 onwards
  • D See You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement.