The Monstera deliciosa is native to wet forests of southern Guatemala and parts of Costa Rica and Panama. It was introduced into cultivation in England in 1752; reached Singapore in 1877 and India in 1878. The fruit is not commonly consumed outside the Central American region, though the plant has gone as far as England, India, Singapore, Queensland and the United States. Specimens of the fruit were exhibited by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society in 1874 and 1881. Of the many aroids (members of the family of Araceae) that are cultivated as ornamental plants, only this one has been grown as well for its fruit. It has become familiar as an ornamental in most of the warm countries of the world and is widely used in warm and temperate regions as a potted plant indoors, especially in conservatories and greenhouses-though it does not bloom nor fruit in confinement. In Guatemala, it is raised in pots in patios to prevent too rampant growth, as it is apt to become an aggressive nuisance.
The ceriman, Monstera deliciosa Liebm, is often called merely monstera and, inappropriately, false breadfruit. Because of the apertures in its leaves, some have called it Swiss-cheese plant, or hurricane plant, suggesting that the holes and slits permit the wind to pass through without damaging the foliage. The plant is a fast-growing, stout, herbaceous vine spreading over the ground and forming extensive mats if unsupported, but climbing trees to a height of 30 ft or more. The stems are cylindrical, heavy, 2 1/2 to 3 in thick, rough with leaf scars, and producing numerous, long, tough aerial roots. The leathery leaves, on stiff, erect, flattened petioles to 3 1/2 ft (105 cm) long, are oval, cordate at the base, to 3 ft or more in length and to 2 3/4 ft wide; deeply cut into 9-in strips around the margins and perforated on each side of the midrib with elliptic or oblong holes of various sizes.
Several inflorescences arise in a group from the leaf axils on tough, cylindrical stalks. The cream colored spadix, sheltered at first by a waxy, white, calla-lily-like spathe, develops into a green compound fruit 8 to 12 in or more in length and 2 to 3 1/2 in thick, suggesting an ear of corn. The thick, hard rind, made up of hexagonal plates or “scales”, covers individual segments of ivory-colored, juicy, fragrant pulp much like diced pineapple. Between the segments there are thin, black particles (floral remnants). Generally there are no seeds, but sometimes, pale-green, hard seeds the size of large peas, may occur in a dozen or so of the segments.
The fruit should be cut from the plant when the tile-like sections of rind separate slightly at the base, making it appear somewhat bulged. At this state, the fruits have been shipped to local or distant markets. If kept at room temperature, the ceriman will ripen progressively toward the apex over a period of 5 or 6 days. The flesh should be eaten only from that portion of the fruit from which the rind segments have so loosened as to be easily flicked off. To ripen the whole fruit at one time, it should be wrapped in paper or plastic, or possibly aluminum foil, as soon as cut from the plant and kept at room temperature until the rind has loosened the entire length of the fruit. At this stage, it will be found that the flesh also falls easily away from the inedible core.
Fully ripe pulp is like a blend of pineapple and banana. It may be served as dessert with a little light cream, or may be added to fruit cups, salads or ice cream. Some people cut cross-sections right through the core, creating wheel like disks that can be held with the thumb and fore finger pinching the “hub” while the edible part is nibbled from the rim. Monstera Deliciosa has a good amount of vitamin C and is a natural energy booster due to the rush of natural sugar and water content.