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Monstera: A hemi-epiphyte

Some gardeners know Monstera as the “Swiss cheese plant”, thanks to its perforated leaves. There are more than 20 different species of Monstera that live as hemi-epiphytes in the rain forests of the Americas.

But what is a hemi-epiphyte?
These are plants that don’t spend their entire life cycle in the forest canopy. Their seeds germinate on the forest floor and start to seek for a host tree. As long scaly runner the seedling creeps on the ground. First leaves are developed when it reaches a suitable host tree. As it climbs the tree, Monstera develops two kinds of roots, anchoring roots that attach it to the trunk and long, dangling aerial roots that grow incredibly vigorously. These roots can reach the ground from a height of 30 meters, giving Monstera the nutrients and water it needs to survive. By this time, the original lower part of the plant, the one that started on the forest floor and climbed the trunk, has died. And so Monstera begins as a liana, and ends as an epiphyte, a socalled hemi-epiphyte.



Audio file download
Monstera: A hemi-epiphyte (MP3, 472 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg