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Monstera are a very popular group of houseplants, but there are way more species than the standard deliciosa and adansonii that we tend to see in stores.
Is Monstera a genus or a species?
Monstera is a genus, and the Monstera species are species.
I know that sounds obvious, but there are TYPES of Monstera that aren’t their own species, called cultivars.
Cultivar is a portmanteau of cultivation and variation. I was shocked when I heard that. I’m easily shockable.
For example, all dogs are dogs, but there are a tonne of different dog breeds that look very different, but really aren’t at all.
So, Monstera deliciosa is a SPECIES of Monstera, but there are a tonne of variations within the species. Humans have then bred these variations so they become more pronounced – again, like how we bred dogs for specific purposes.
The main example of this within a Monstera species is Monstera deliciosa. Within this species we have a TONNE of variety – but they’re all the same plant.
So, as well as the regular green Monstera deliciosa we have:
- Monstera deliciosa albo – natural white variegation
- Monstera deliciosa alba or aurea – yellow variegation
- Monstera deliciosa mint – pale green variegation
- Monstera deliciosa Thai Constellation – lab-created white variegation
- Monstera deliciosa borsigiana – an adolescent Monstera
- Monstera deliciosa large form – a mature Monstera
I’ve probably missed a few, as more are cropping up every day (not pink though).
Some of these, like borsigiana, are commonly believed to be genetically different from a ‘normal’ Monstera deliciosa, but the guys at Kew did research that concluded that they were the plant, and the differences occurred due to variations in environment and care.
Oh, and some Monstera specimens have big leaves and some have small leaves.
How many species of Monstera are there?
Ok, so it’s more than I thought, but actually, there are about 100 Rhaphidophora species.
Still 59 is a lot, considering we only see a few in the hobby.
Okay, so as always in botany, there’s a bit of argument over some of the species, so general consensus is that there are 59 members of the genus, but we are only 100% sure that 49 of them are definitely separate species.
All of these Monstera come from various parts of the tropical parts of the Americas. There’s no random one found in, like, Asia, or somewhere (not that that’s not cool, but it really confuses botanists)
What are the 58 species of Monstera?
Some of these are incredibly rare, so the only pictures are from research papers, which I’ve linked to.
Some there are no pictures of, and interestingly, it’s the ones that live in aquatic environments (I imagine on river margins, not actually underwater) that there are no pictures of. Perhaps there were crocodiles and the botanists couldn’t get close enough.
A valuable lesson to learn is NOT to trust google images. The same twenty pictures of random Monstera pop up every time I searched.
There were a lot of common themes – many looked like Adansonii but with different shaped fenestration, others were more deliciosa-y, with a lot of splits but fewer holes.
There were several that looked a LOT like Dubia.
Siltepecana was a bit different, but also, kind of like a dubia but not shingly – even the juvenile silvery leaves are similar.
There was a few that had more of a large peace lily leaf texture, and then some that were quite bird of paradise-esque.
A LOT of creepy growth patterns. A lot.
- Monstera acacoyaguensis – no idea what it looks like. Google it and you’ll get a dozen different guides, clearly all about different plants
- Monstera acuminata – like an adansonii but smaller
- Monstera adansonii – we know this one. I have a care guide here.
- Monstera alcirana – looks like a cross between a zz plant and a peace lily. Photos here.
- Monstera alfaroi – a newbie. Big leaves, tiny holes
- Monstera amargalensis – I can’t find a photo – all anyone seems to know about this plant is that it’s from Colombia
- Monstera anomala – similar to a dubia
- Monstera aureopinnata – big leaves with splits but no holes. Photos here
- Monstera barrieri – looks like a big tortum
- Monstera boliviana – I couldn’t find any photos, BUT there’s a variation of an adansonii sold as a ‘Bolivia’ (for a premium price, of course), so be careful if looking to buy
- Monstera buseyi – big, peace lily-esque leaves, but with fenestrations – pretty cool looking, actually
- Monstera cenepensis – mysterious. All I can discern is they grow in water (I assume the roots only)
- Monstera costaricensis – weird looking (no offence). Massive leaves, teeny tiny fenestration.
- Monstera croatii – only discovered in 2020, looks like this.
- Monstera deliciosa – I’ve written plenty about these, I’m not writing anything here
- Monstera dissecta – kind of looks like a rhapidophora decursiva
- Monstera dubia – pretty common, creey-looking when young, cool af when mature
- Monstera egregia – looks like this
- Monstera epipremnoides – the proper name for Monstera esqueleto
- Monstera filamentosa – Really cool – looks like a tortum x deliciosa
- Monstera florescanoana – a new species. Looks like an adansonii.
- Monstera gambensis – fairly new, found at the same time as the Croatii. Another one that looks a bit peace lily-esque but with fenestrations.
- Monstera gentryi – like an adansonii but, er, longer.
- Monstera glaucescen – kind of looks like an Epipremnum, couldn’t see significant fenestrations – pics
- Monstera gracilis – looks like a deliciosa, with slightly different fenestrations
- Monstera guzmanjacobiae – another newbie. Pictures are available, but rubbish
- Monstera integrifolia – a particularly cool looking one – a bit standleyana-eswque
- Monstera juliusii – another newbie, looks a bit adansonii-y
- Monstera kikiae – figures E & F in this photo. Adansonii-esque
- Monstera kessleri – another mysterious one. Again, likes aquatic conditions.
- Monstera lechleriana – pics here
- Monstera lentii – pics here
- Monstera limitaris – not discovered until 2018
- Monstera luteynii – another one that likes to live in water, but I have a picture of one! Though it seem to be dead!
- Monstera maderaverde – the roots are used to make baskets! Pretty cool!
- Monstera membranacea – another creepy one
- Monstera minima – not to be confused with Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. I can’t find any info, because all the results are for Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. All I know is that it comes from Colombia and Panama.
- Monstera mittermeieri – cool looking – a bit Golden Pothos-y without the variegation
- Monstera molinae – looks like Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma
- Monstera momoi – figure A in this picture
- Monstera monteverdensis – found at the same time as the juliusii, but looks more deliciosa-y
- Monstera obliqua – used to be super rare, became popular BECAUSE it was rare, and now it’s available in my local garden centre for £135. What a journey.
- Monstera oreophile – another creepy one, but pretty coral inflorescences
- Monstera pinnatipartita – another common-ish one
- Monstera pittieri – A CUTE ONE
- Monstera planadensis – if you’ve ever wanted a bird of paradise that climbs, this Monstera is for you!
- Monstera praetermissa – another adansonii lookalike, but (I think) bigger, and with banana-y inflorescences
- Monstera punctulata – I’d love to know if the leaves in the bottom of the linked photo are the juveniles of the MONSTER leaves
- Monstera siltepecana – another common house plant
- Monstera spruceana – another shingler-to-big-fenestrated-leaves one,
- Monstera standleyana – pretty common, VERY subject to price fluctuations. Sometimes called a Philodendron cobra.
- Monstera subpinnata – gorgeous, delicate leaves. I have seen them in my local garden centre, but they also have an Obliqua, so whilst not common, they’re definitely available.
- Monstera tacanaesis – looks pretty much exactly like a deliciosa, with weirder fruit
- Monstera tarrazuensis – pics here
- Monstera tenuis – Dubia vibes
- Monstera tubercala – again, Dubia vibes
- Monstera vasquezii – no info. This is apparently a secret Monstera
- Monstera wilsoniensis – pics here
- Monstera xanthospatha – like a big adansonii
Which Monstera are available to buy
By the way, there are a LOT of misidentified Monstera on the market. Make sure you’re reasonably sure of what you’re buying.
- Monstera adansonii
- Monstera barrieri – seen for sale on Etsy, not sure how legit it is, but seems ok
- Monstera deliciosa
- Monstera dubia
- Monstera epipremnoides
- Monstera lechleriana – this is one that IS available, but it’s also mistaken for adansonii and epipremnoides a lot
- Monstera obliqua
- Monstera pinnatipartita
- Monstera siltepecana
- Monstera standleyana
- Monstera subpinnatum
Apart from the two I’ve made notes next to, I’ve seen all of these in my local garden centre. Obvs how easy these are to get hold of varies from country to country.
What is the rarest Monstera?
It’s hard to say what the rarest is, as some of them have only been discovered in the last few years and botanists aren’t sure of how varied their distribution is – if they find six specimens of an unknown Monstera in Panama it’s impossible to tell if those are the only remaining plants, or if there are a few thousand in Guatemala.
Rarity also changes in the house plant industry. Monstera obliqua is probably the rarest Monstera of Monstera commonly kept as house plants. There are very few in the wild, but it’s becoming relatively common in the hobby.
Monstera adansonii is very rare in the wild, but it’s extremely common overall, because it does so well as a house plant. So it’s not an easy thing to quantify.
Monstera that aren’t Monstera
The most obvious is Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, or mini Monstera. There is, however, a Monstera called Monstera minima, but it’s not the same plant as a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma – RT just commandeered its name.
Then there’s Monstera peru, which I THINK is an Epipremnum. I scoured all of the Monstera papers on research gate and inaturalist* and they don’t acknowledge it. Monstera karsteniatum is also not a recognised species, but then neither is Epipremnum marble planet.
It was probably made in a lab.
If someone could give me a definitive answer on Monstera peru’s deal I’d be grateful, but I’m pretty sure at this point it’s not a Monstera. The leaves could be mistaken for juvenile pinnatipartita, but other than that I don’t see the similarities.
Monstera standleyana, which is sometimes called Philodendron cobra, IS a Monstera.
I hope you had fun on our Monstera deep dive. I’m probably going to lose sleep over the whole Monstera peru conspiracy. Apparently it just hasn’t been classified yet and no one knows.
*Inaturalist is website where you can take pictures of plants and post them, then theyre nicely organised and people like me can go and look at photos of these plants in the wild. There are NO results if you search for any of the common names of Monstera peru.