#TuesdayTidbits Yes, There is a Difference

by | Apr 9, 2019 | 12 comments

Lately it has been bothering me that many people call the Monstera deliciosa a split leaf philodendron. It is a common name applied to both the monstera and the true split leaf philodendron (Thaumatophyllum bipinnnatifidum or selloum formerly Philodendron selloum. We will deal with that name change situation at a later time). Below is a picture I took at the Dallas Aquarium last week showing the monstera and philodendron growing together.

Philodendron and Monstera

Thaumatophyllum on right, monstera on the left

Common names vs. botanical names

I realize that plants are often known by several different common names, but it really bothered me when Jeopardy showed a picture of a monstera and called it a philodendron. Jeopardy?! Really? Below is the picture that was on Jeopardy.

The picture of the monstera that Jeopardy identified as a philodendron

So I am going to show the differences so you can identify them correctly.


Below is the monstera. As you can see it has not only splits in the leaves, but holes as well, and they are called fenestrations.

Monstera deliciosa leaves

Below are the stems of the monstera.

Monstera with stems

Here is the new leaf of a monstera unfurling and you can see the holes in the leaves.

Monstera leaf unfurlilng (see the holes?)

Monstera stem

Monstera fruit


The picture below is the split leaf philodendron or Philodendron bipinnatifidum now known as Thaumatophyllum bipinnatifidum. As you can see, it does NOT have holes in the leaves, as the monstera does.

Thaumatophyllum leaf

Though they are definitely different plants, they are in the same family of plants, the Araceae or aroid family.

Below is the stem of a philodendron and you can see the difference from the monstera one above.

Thaumatophyllum stem


There is a difference. They do look a lot alike, especially when they are young. Is it a big deal? Not really. It just bothers me. They both share a common name, but it all comes down to the botanical name. The botanical name is the true identifier. Common names as we have discovered, can be the same for two different plants.

Does this bother you or is it just me? Give me your opinion in the comments.

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  1. Kirsten

    It bothers me now, although there was a time when I could not tell the difference either. I would love for you to do further posts on identification of the different commonly mistaken confused aroids.

    • thehouseplantguru.com

      Thanks, Kirsten! I will think about doing other posts. It probably shouldn’t bother us, but the Jeopardy picture really bothered me. They are supposed to have fact checked.

  2. Brooklyn

    The last photo is in fact a monster deliciosa and you identified it incorrectly as Thaumatophyllum

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Thanks,Brooklyn! You are right! I removed the picture.I must have been tired when I pushed the publish button. Lol

  3. Lynn

    Does the varigata varieties com true from seed? I was going to buy some seeds on Amazon.

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      That is a good question….my GUESS would be no, but I don’t know. Sorry.

  4. Ada G.

    Yes this has been bothering me too, especially since I went to Google to find a photo of a Split-Leaf and ended up with a ton of photos of Monstera instead. They are not the same as your photos clearly show! My mom had a gorgeous Split-Leaf that I wish I’d taken before she passed, I much prefer its leaves and form to the more streamlined look of the Monstera!

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      I know. That is the common name for monstera, but I have no reason why. I guess because they are in the same family…?

  5. Leticia

    Thanks for this post! I have recently acquired cuttings of both! The selloum much later than the Monstera , young leaves without fenestrations. It has put out 3 new leaves for me. I’m patiently awaiting the mature leaves and for him to sprawl. The selloum cuttings I received were also smaller and he has shot out about 3 big leaves in a smaller amount of time. What am I doing wrong?
    Both are near window on same side of house. Similar pots/mix

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      I’m not sure. They sound like they are both growing. Maybe send a picture for me to see.

  6. Athena Oliver

    I would LOVE additional clarification of the different types of philodendrons labelled as selloum. I have 3 clearly different varieties that were all sold separately as Selloum. One looks to be the Thaumatophyllum, another’s leaves aren’t as deeply indented and are more rounded, and the last also isn’t as deeply indented but the tip is pointy (more arrow shaped). Of course I’ve google image searched a ton, but this seems to be a variety many people over use and confuse!

    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Athena,
      There are so many different cultivars now it is hard to keep up. All the selloum varieties and hybrids are thaumatophyllum now. There is one called Xanadu, and Hope, and are probably many more I’m not aware of. It is easier to just put them all in the selloum category for growers.


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