What You Need to Know About Monstera Deliciosa, the 'Fruit Salad' Plant
TikTok influencers are raving about eating the fruit of the popular houseplant, but how safe is it?? Here’s what to know.
Monsteras, those tropical houseplants with the cool, natural leaf holes that have been flooding your Instagram feed for the past few years, have gone viral for more than just looking cool on your windowsill: They actually bear fruit.
Influencers are dubbing Monstera deliciosa (which means “delicious monster”) the “fruit salad” plant, maintaining that the strange-looking, sweet and delicious spiky fruit is well-deserving of its name.
Miami Fruit, a South Florida company specializing in exotic fruit, including Monstera deliciosa, shared a TikTok video on July 21 introducing the funny fruit. In it, one of the company’s founders, Edelle Schlegel, describes its look as “corn on the cob from another planet” and the taste as, “all the fruit combined with a hint of Pop Rocks candy.” Specifically, pineapple, mango, and banana, she adds later on. “It has these interesting honeycomb scales that fall off as it ripens,” she says in the video that has been viewed more than 7.4 million times. There is one caveat, however. “Unripe, the fruit contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause a burning sensation in your mouth and throat, so make sure to eat it ripe to avoid getting burned.”
Lydia Keating, an influencer who heads up the so-called “Fruit Gang,” put Monstera deliciosa to the test in a July 28 video (viewed over 39 million times) after being “intrigued” by Miami Fruit’s claims. “It’s an interesting shape, it has a nice kind of curve,” she says after pulling three unripe pieces of the fruit out of a box. “She did say the honeycomb is supposed to flake off if it is ripe,” she says.
In several follow up videos?she continues documenting the ripening process, trying it on August 3, demonstrating that the honeycombs were finally falling off. “Oh my god,” she exclaims, biting into the flesh. “The flavor is actually insane. I’ve never had a fruit that tastes like this. The flavor is like, you go on a journey,” she continues. “You start sweet, and then you kind of go into pineapple, and then from pineapple you almost go to coconut, and then banana,” she continues, noting that the center is hard, “like corn on the cob.”
Justin Hancock, a horticulturist with Costa Farms in Miami, describes the fruit as looking “almost prehistoric or reptilian, like elongated cylinders up to 12 inches long covered with hexagonal green scales,” he says. Underneath the scales is the fruit, which has a ripe banana-like texture and decidedly tropical flavor. “To me, most are reminiscent of bananas mixed with the tang of pineapple and the sweetness of marshmallows,” he adds, pointing out that because Monstera deliciosa plants are propagated by seed, there may be subtle differences between plants, just like how different apple varieties have their own unique flavor profiles.
How Healthy Is Monstera Deliciosa Fruit
Because of how rare it is, Monstera fruit won't be found in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutritional analysis database. But it shares some nutritional properties with other fruits, says Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant in New York City and the author of The Small Change Diet. “It is rich in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which helps our body fight against free radicals.” Vitamin C has been shown to support immune health and help protect against certain kinds of cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Both Gans and Hancock confirm that eating the fruit prior to reaching full ripeness, before the outer scales fall off, could cause an unpleasant reaction. “It contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and burning inside your mouth, tongue, and throat, as well as itchiness on the skin, face, and scalp,” Gans explains. Hancock has firsthand knowledge of this. “I’ve had the experience of getting too eager and eating too far into the fruit. It’s not pleasant,” he says. Gans adds that you might also experience digestive side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, due to the calcium oxalate. “When the fruit is ripe, the calcium oxalate dissipates,” Gans says.
Also, while the fruit is generally safe for human consumption, Gans maintains that dogs and cats should not eat it.
How Can You Try Monstera Deliciosa Fruit?
So, will your houseplant grow the TikTok-famous fruit? Hancock says it’s unlikely. While Monstera deliciosa is the most common Monstera species grown as a houseplant, and may produce flowers, it needs to be pollinated to make fruit. “As a houseplant, Monstera rarely gets large enough or has enough light to produce fruits,” he explains. As an indoor plant, it’s best to enjoy it for ornamental use only.”
Because Monstera deliciosa is a seasonal fruit, it isn’t always available for purchase. According to one produce vendor, you should be able to find it in the fall through winter. Currently, you can preorder it on the Miami Fruit website.?A small box retails for $127 (3 to 5 pounds) and a large, $197 (7 to 10 pounds), including shipping and handling.