#TuesdayTidbits Why are there holes in my leaves?

by | Jan 8, 2019 | 0 comments

I’m back on track in the new year with a #Tuesdaytidbit. Yesterday was #monsteramonday, but I needed to wait until Tuesday, right? So today we are talking about holes in the monstera (Monstera deliciosa) leaf. It is also called the “swiss cheese plant”. Why? Well, I think it is quite obvious. There are holes in the leaves not unlike the holes in a piece of Swiss cheese. These hole filled leaves are called perforate leaves or fenestrate leaves. Why do they have these holes, is the question.

Swiss cheese plant leaf

So, I have to admit that I had always thought that the reason they were there was to combat the wind they are exposed to in the treetops where they reside or hurricane winds. It also allows the excessive rain that falls in the jungle to run through the leaves without destroying them and to filter the rain down to their roots. Yet, I learned something new today as I researched this phenomenon.

Monstera climbing a palm tree in the Belle Isle conservatory


Holes on either side of the mid rib

Though these ideas have long been thought to be the reason for the holes, Christopher Muir, a former professor at Indiana University wrote a paper “poking holes” in those theories. He points out that if the holes were there to combat wind and allow for excessive rain to get through, EVERY leaf in the jungle would be fenestrate. That certainly makes sense. His theory is that the leaves need sun and the holes allow the sun that falls on the leaves to shine through to the leaves below, thus giving them energy. Makes sense, right? Many plants in the jungle survive soley on the dappled sunlight they receive.

Sun shining through the monstera leaf

Unfurling leaf on the monstera leaf

The holes in the monstera

The point is, for whatever reason the leaves have holes, and all of the theories may be true,  it sure makes them attractive and the monstera plant is one of the hottest plants on the market. It has withstood the test of time and has come back from its midcentury popularity to even greater popularity in the 21st century.

Do you have one? And if you do, make sure to put your pictures of it on Instagram on Monday and use the hashtag #monsteramonday.

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