Here Are All The Differences Between Monstera Deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

This post may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure here.

One of my pet hates in this hobby is the gate-keepy nature of some of the people.

Plants do tend to attract lovely, kind people, but there are some that just like to laugh at the rest of us if we don’t which is the spathe and which is the spadix.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma and Monstera deliciosa DO look alike. Don’t listen to people who say they don’t.

I think I can probably claim to be able to tell them apart in 100% of cases, but I can totally see why people who are new to house plants might get them confused.

Aaand that’s even BEFORE they went and made it way more difficult by giving the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma TWO (not one, TWO) common names that include the word Monstera:

  • Mini Monstera
  • Monstera ginny

I get the mini Monstera thing – I mean, it looks like a mini Monstera – but Monstera ginny? They’re just making it difficult on purpose.

If you’re after care guides, I have one for Monstera deliciosa, and one for Rhaphidophora tetrasperma.

I drew maps and everything.

monstera deliciosa next to rhapidophora tetrasperma

The perspective is a bit skewed in the above picture of the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma – it’s on a shelf, not the floor, so there is a much bigger leaf size difference, BUT if you claim you can’t see why people are mixing them up, you’re lying.

How closely are Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma related?

There are 100 Rhapidophora species within the genus, and there are 59 Monstera species within the Monstera genus.

Monsteras are found around central America, Rhapidophora around southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific.

They’re in the same family, Araceae, so they’re both aroids. Many people think that that’s that – they’re both aroids but no closer.

The next level down is genus – Rhapidophora tetrasperma are in the genus Rhapidophora and Monstera deliciosa are in the genus, you guessed it, Monstera.

However, there’s a couple of layers between family and genus – sub-family and tribe. Monstera and Rhapidophora are both in the Monsteroideae sub-family, and the Monstereae tribe.

So whilst Rhapidophora aren’t the same genus as Monstera, they’re still pretty closely related.

Differences between Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Distribution

I find this so interesting, because you’d sort of automatically assume that they come from similar areas, but actually, without human intervention, these two plants would never encounter one another in the wild.

Monstera are native to Mexico and Guatemala (though has since spread, er, everywhere), whereas Rhapidophora come from south-east Asia and Australasia.

Scarcity

Monstera are very common. Due to their ability to adapt and thrive pretty much everywhere with a warm enough climate, they’ve literally become an invasive species in many countries.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma, on the other hand, are more similar to Monstera adansonii when it comes to their scarcity in the wild.

Due to their small size, Rhaphidophora Tetraspermas have a much harder time of it as seedlings.

They NEED to reach a tree to climb quickly because they can’t support themselves in their upwards journey (weird choice of words there, Caroline, but I can’t think of anything else). If they crawl along the ground they’re at risk of being trodden on, snapped, or getting flooded out and rotting.

As a result, Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are pretty rare in wild. Luckily, they grow VERY well as house plants, so there’s a happy ending.

monstera deliciosa fruit

Fruit

Monstera deliciosa are the only aroid (I think, please correct me if I’m wrong) that produces a fruit that’s edible to humans.

Most will produce some kind of fruit, whether it’s similar to the Monstera deliciosa fruit, or more of a berry type deal, but they’re all toxic to us.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma produces a similar type of fruit, but it’s inedible.

Hmm.

Monstera deliciosa are an INVASIVE SPECIES that has a DELICIOUS fruit that humans love.

They’ve definitely planned to take over the word. Little did they know we have little interest in their fruit, but have loved their foliage for hundreds of years.

Leaf shape

Monstera deliciosa have more heart-shaped leaves, whereas Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are more of an oval.

Leaf shape can be confusing because the size and shape of both plants (and most house plants, tbh) depend on the conditions it’s grown in.

But a mature Monstera deliciosa has quite round leaves, whereas Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma stay more oval-shaped.

Apart from, of course, the splits on the leaves.

The splits in Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma TEND to be bigger and rounder (proportionate to the size of the leaves). They also vary less than Monstera deliciosa splits.

Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma leaves are FAR less likely to develop holes in the leaves. It CAN hapen, but I think it’s more of an accidental thing than something the plant does as part of its development. The leaves get bigger as the plant matures, but they don’t change their form dramatically.

Monstera deliciosa, on the other hand, can develop several roles of holes parallel to the central vein of the leaf. The bigger the leaf gets, the more fenestrations it gets.

mature variegated monstera leaf

Size

Monstera deliciosa are bigger than Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma BUT there’s no reason you couldn’t grow a MASSIVE Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma. It’d just take longer. Look incredible though.

The individual leaves of Monstera deliciosa are capable of growing up to a metre in diameter (probs bigger), whereas Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma leaves, er, aren’t. They can still get bigger than you’d think though, given enough light, and can easily get 6 inches in length.

Similarities between Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma

Ok, so both they’re described as being bisexual, but that doesn’t mean what you think it means (I mean, as far as plants are concerned). It just means that one plant has both male and female parts so you (surely intersex then??) and can self-pollinate.

Neither has a perigone, which is the part of the flower that isn’t needed for reproduction. Basically, the flowers are functional but not pretty.

Care

Both these plants are often touted as being low-light tolerant, but you’d definitely get the most out of them if you give them brighter light.

Monstera can take as much light as you can give them (if acclimated properly), so don’t hold back. Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma can burn if in intense light and heat BUT I’ve had AWESOME results from growing them under my grow lights. Pictures in this article.

Both Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are climbers that are always looking for more light. Just because they begin their lives in low light doesn’t mean they want to end up there.

Growing both of these plants in low light will result in small leaves, thin stems, and etiolated petioles.

Rhaphidophora tetrasperma are a little more prone to problems than Monstera deliciosa.

rhapidophora leaf size before and after grow lights

Fenestrated leaves

Fenestrated leaves are quite uncommon in tropical plants – or at least they are in their juvenile forms. Golden Pothos and Monstera dubia produce fenestrations when they’re mature, but they have to given the conditions in which to fenestrate, which are basically all the light and height you can give them.

Tendency to climb

Both Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are secondary hemiepiphytes, which means they start life on the ground, grow up into the trees and their seeds drop back to the ground to germinate and the cycle starts again (primary hemiepiphytes germinate in the canopy and over time their roots grow down to the ground).

Both Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma will use their aerial roots to attach to any solid surface so they can support themselves.

Propagation

From a biological standpoint, both Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma can be propagated in the same way, i.e. from a node. Both have leaves that will produce roots in water, but they need a node to produce more leaves.

Leaves DO not propagate. If you have a leaf cutting that produced more leaves, there will have been a bit of node (however tiny) attached to the petiole.

Monstera are easier to propagate than Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma IN MY EXPERIENCE. I wrote about my NIGHTMARE of propping RT here.

Monstera deliciosa, on the other hand, root pretty easily for me – I wrote about how to propagate them here.

By the way, if you had the opposite experience to me, you can use all the RT propagation tips on Monstera nad vice versa. All the tips work for both plants because the way they propagate is the same, but different environments/setups yield different results.

Final thoughts

Whilst Monstera deliciosa and Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are definitely NOT the same, they’re pretty similar, at least for our purposes.

Whilst I said that Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is rare in the wild, it is NOT rare in the industry so don’t get fleeced. I can’t really give a price because they vary a lot in size, so here are a couple of Etsy shops selling them for good prices:

Whilst I was looking for these listings I noticed a few people selling Rhapidophora tetrasperma seeds. I’m pretty confident saying that these are a scam. There are a LOT of scammy people selling ‘Monstera’ seeds, so don’t bother unless you’re SURE.

Most Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma are grown by tissue culture, or taken from cuttings – very few will be grown from seed. Therefore it’s unlikely that someone out there is colllecting seeds. And even if they were, they’d be going for a lot more than £10 for 1000.

I also saw a few variegated Rhapidaphora. Those things are still VERY pricey, so make sure you practise on a green one first so you know you can give it a good home!

I have a whole article on Monstera deliciosa prices here.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

Leave a comment