Philodendron fruit from Madeira Island

English: Fruit growing on a Monstera deliciosa...

English: Fruit growing on a Monstera deliciosa with leaf behind it. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monstera deliciosa – Philodendron fruit

This is a rainforest plant by origin and part of the Araceae family, also called Philodendron, Swiss Cheese Plant (because of the holes in its big leaves) and Mexican Breadfruit, among others. Technically it is an epiphyte with areal roots, which are easily visible on the plant. It can grow up to 20 m. The plants love to creep up on large trees – you can see some nice examples in the Quinta Magnolia garden in Funchal.

The fruit has a cool name: monster fruit – the Italians in Sicily call it “Zampa de Leone” or Lion’s Paw. Each fruit is encased by a large white leaf. It is around 25cm long and has a diameter of up to 4 cm, The surface resembles that of corn cob in green. When ripe and soft (not to be consumed before, it contains potassium oxalate which can be irritating to the skin and throat), the corn-like fruit scales fall off and reveal the ripe fruit. It has a taste similar to pineapple. Even in the “Mercado dos Lavradores” market in Funchal, it is expensive because this delicacy is being collected in the wild, like cactus fruit and green and black figs.

When taken from the stem before ripening, it can be easily shipped.  

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