Sunday, June 17, 2007
It doesn't take much imagination to understand why this plant is referred to as the Swiss-cheese plant. Monstera is the genus and I always thought the species was deliciosa but now I'm not sure, since I see images of this species having split leaf characteristics. We normally find the monstera plant in this stage of development up high on the trunks of trees. It starts off as a vine at the base of the tree with small leaves, none of which have the holes as you see them in the image. The higher the plant gets, the larger the leaves become and they all develop the perforated, Swiss-cheese look. I've always wondered what purpose the holes serve in the physiology of the plant. I can only speculate that they allow the wind to flow through the leaves without tearing them apart. When the plant really gets up very high, like 30-40 meters, the leaves become the size of elephant ears. They appear to be quite fragile and I imagine that the holes play an important role in keeping them intact. The plant in the attached image is attached to a tree that was blown over by the wind some four years ago. It keeps its posture because there's a lot of sunlight falling on it in this location.