The Monstera Species or by its popular name (Swiss) Cheese Plant is super popular but there are a lot of Monstera types around, and almost all webshops and plant stores are confused about their names. This article is your Monstera guide for if you have a Monstera and want to know the type or for if you want to buy a Monstera.
This is a sub-article of our Ultimate Monstera Guide, click here to learn everything else about Monsteras.
While there are officially 48 different Monstere species (Monstera is the Genus), there are only 2 species (with some variants) that are breeded at a large scale in Europe. We only elaborate on these species.
1. Species 1 – Monstera Deliciosa
The Monstera Deliciosa is the species of the genus Monstera that most people are familiar with. However there is some confusion about its name as there are a few plants that look quite like it so we first get that confusion out of the way. After that we will look into some cool variants in the next paragraphs.
The first name which is often wrongly used for a Monstera Deliciosa is Monstera Pertusum. This comes from the fact that the second botanist who described the Monstera gave it the name Dracontium Pertusum. It was soon discovered that Dracontium was the wrong family but Pertusum which just means ‘holes’ in Latin kept on living on. You can read more about it in our super cool 10 facts about the Monstera you didn’t know article.
The second wrongly used set of names are Splitleaf Philodendron and Philodendron Pertusum. Pertusum again is an artefact form the story above. Both names are derivated from the Philodendron genus. This is a genus of houseplants that belongs to the same family as Monstera (the family Araceae) but apart form that has not a lot to do with the Monstera Deliciosa. In the pictures below, you see a few species of the Philodendron genus. The Philodendron Elegans on the left does have something in common with the holy leaves of the Monstera and also the Philodendron Gloriosum on the right has kind of the same leaf form.
So all three wrong names we discovered so far (Splitleaf Philodendron, Philodendron Pertusum and Monstera Pertusum) are names that don’t exist. But they are used a lot to describe Monstera Deliciosas and in particular for older Monstera Deliciosas. Why is that? It’s because adult Monsteras look quite a bit different from their young or juvenile form. Older Monstera Deliciosas have larger leaves (up to 1 meter) and have real woody trunks. On the pictures below you see an adult Monstera Deliciosa houseplant on the left and on the right an example of how large a Monstera can become when planted outdoors (in the right climate!). Yes, your monstera really can become so large! The photo on the left is something which you can achieve yourself with the right care after a few years.
The juvenile form that most people have (yes its all the same a Montera Deliciosa!) you see below. Younger Monstera Deliciosa often have no holes (left) or only a single row of holes (right). The plant produces leaves that are larger and have mor rowes of holes as it becomes healthier and older. If you have the Monstera on the left and you treat it well, you can expect the first leaves with holes to develop within a year. If you have the Monstera on the right and you treat it well, you can expect the first multi-row holes leaves to develop within 1-2 years.
The last name which is wrongly used for the Monstera Deliciosa is the Monstera Obliqua. Unlike the names before, this is actually a plant that really exists. It is even more confused with the Monstera Adansonii (the second species of Monstera) so we will explain that one below.
Finally, we have the Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma or also wrongly called mini-monstera. This time it is the other way around as this plant often gets the name Monstera Deliciosa while it isn’t. The Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma is not a Monstera species (it is part of the Rphaphidophora genus just like the Monstera Deliciosa is part of the Monstera Genus). It just looks a lot like the Monstera Deliciosa. It is also an easy plant to hold and it grows a lot faster than the Monstera.
1.1 Monstera Deliciosa var Variegata
In the plantworld you have species and you have variants of species. The very rare and insanely popuplar Monstera Deliciosa var Variegata is not a new type of the Monstera genus but rather a colored variant of the Monstera Deliciosa. Variegata simply means multicolor in Latin. It is a rare mutation that causes certain (parts of) leaves to not contain leaf green. The result are other colors than green. It is a mutation that is mostly very difficult to propagate and in some cases disappears from itself. That is also the reason that they are relatively scarce. So, if you have a nice specimen of it you can be pretty happy! You have three variations of Monstera Deliciosa var Variegata.
The first one is the Monstera Deliciosa var Albo Variegata. Because of its beautiful white stains, it is the best known and most popular Variegata of the Monstera Deliciosa. It is extremely rare and thus expensive to buy.
The second variant is the Monstera Deliciosa var Aura Variegata. It is as rare as the white variant above but less known and thus even more difficult to buy. It has yellow stains and is also called Monstera Marmorata (not an official name though).
The third and last is the Monstera Deliciosa var Thai Constellation. This is the only Variegata variant from the Monstera Deliciosa which can be propagated quite easily. It has cream-colored spots that appear in both surfaces and dots where the other variants have often more surface like color spots. People often mistake it with the pure white Albo Variegata variant which is way rarer.
1.2 Monstera Deliciosa var Borsigiana
This is artificially bred or cultivated variant of the Monstera Deliciosa that has a smaller maximum leaf size (60 cm compared to 1 meter) but grows a lot quicker. Because of this, a large percentage of Monstera Deliciosass you find are actually Monstera Deliciosa var Borsigianas. Unfortunately it is very difficult to see for a young plant if have the original or the cultivated variant and most sellers don’t show the correct name. Monstera Deliciosa var Borsigiana is thus sold very often as Monster Deliciosa and also the other way around.
The good news is that both are beautiful indoor plants and that you can start to see the difference as they grow older. An adult original Monstera Deliciosa has leaves with more rows of perforations. Borsigiana only has one or two rows. The leafstalk of an adult Monstera Deliciosa has also little bumps right against the leaf. The Monstera Delicios var Borsigiana doesn’t have this. However, if your plants doesn’t have bumps or multiple rows of holes, it can be that its still an original Monstera Deliciosa and is simply too young to show the signs.
Just like the original Monstera Deliciosa, the Monstera Deliciosa var Borsigiana can have multicolor variegata variants (variant-ception here!). Both the Albo (white) and Aura (yellow) variants are possible Thai Constellation only exists as a mutation in the original Monstera Deliciosa.
2. Species 2 – Monstera Adansonii
The Monstera Adansonii is the second Monstera species which is readily availabe in plant stores. He has me and larger holes (50% of the leaves are holes) but has a smaller leaf size (up to 60 cm). An official synonym for the Monstera Adansonii is Monstera Friedrichtsthallii. This is because the botanist that discovered this species didn’t recognize it the second time he saw it and thus gave it a new name. Although in principle every Monstera Adansonii can therefore be called Monstera friedrichsthallii, only young Monstera Adansoniis are often called that. You can see such a juvenile specimen below.
Most Monstera Adansonii that you find in the store are fairly young and have quite small leaves. They however can become quite large as you can see on the photos below.
Also the Monstera Adansonii has a wrong name that is used a lot: Monstera Obliqua. This however is an ultra rare Monstera species that officially only has been spotted 17 times by botanists in the wild and has leaves that are 90% holes. The chance of seeing this one is the same as spotting a unicorn and if you manage to travel to the tropical jungle and see one you should take a picture, send it to us and feel very very very lucky. We didn’t manage to find a photo of which we could verify that it was 100% sure a Monstera Obliqua but the drawings below give a good idea.
It could be that your Monstera Adnsonii has more holes than normal and starts to look a bit like the drawings above. This can be seen in about 20% of the bred Monstera Adansonii and it is because your specimen is a cross-cultivated species. It should still be called Monstera Adansonii.