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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