Monstera Velvet Shingler
Monstera velvet shingler is still an unknown species, some believe it maybe a clone or form of Monstera dubia. This could be, but I personally believe it has enough unique characteristics that it maybe a new species.
Monstera velvet shingler compared to Monstera dubia
Discovering the plant
In early 2003, I was driving down to Florida for my annual pilgrimage to the Aroid Show in Miami Florida. Each year I had drove down and visited Botanical Gardens like Atlanta Botanical garden and
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida. On this trip I was making my way down the west cost to visit my friend John Banta who is a well known collector and plant breeder. He has also been a great mentor and teacher to me. The year before I had talked to another collector at the plant show and she said I was welcome to come by and visit. Her name was Murline Lydon in Dover Florida.
Murline was around 70 – 80 years old when I went to visit her. She had an extensive collection of aroids in a very nice large greenhouse with cooling pads and the works. I was quite impressed with her place. One look at her collection and you could tell that she was addicted to plants just like me. She would get a burst of energy while telling me the species names and stories of her plant collecting in the wild.
She went on giving me the grad tour of her greenhouse, this is when I noticed this strange Monstera shingling plant covering her back wall. She had grown the plant for years and had no idea where the Monstera had come from. She offered a me few cuttings as the plant had gotten out of control. The younger growth was velvety and slightly corrugated while the older foliage had longer pendulous leaves with a few holes and cuts. This plant did not seem to be in anyone else’s collection. had zigzagged across most of Florida over the years buying trading and begging for new aroids and no one else seemed to have had or grown it. She was happy to share the plant and we talked for a few hours, had tea, watched wheel of fortune and then I continued on my quest for new and rare plants. She was quite the host.
A Quest for an ID
As with about every trip I take to Florida I ended up at my good friends Enid’s who runs and owns NSE Tropicals. When I got there I begin to remove all the plants from my car to show Enid the treasures I had found while on my quest. Murline had given me 2 garbage bags full of the Monstera Velvet Shingler and after I had told Enid how it was shingling and growing with velvet leaves she had to have one. I gave Enid a few starts of the Monstera and she ended up growing it on the tree in the back area of her nursery.
A few years later the Monstera had grown to maturity and everyone was trying to figure out what in the world it was. It became known as the thing in the tree to all who visited Enid’s. We believed it to be an Asian aroid called Rhaphidophora korthalsii (Photo below) which it resembles closely. After comparing and growing the plant out more, Tom Croat (AKA world famous Botanist) was able to ID it as a Monstera species. He was not sure which one but it did resemble Monstera dubia in it’s mature form. This seemed to be the status for the plant from here on out.
The plant had grown for me well and I was now selling starts of it as Monstera Velvet shingler or a Monstera dubia velvet form. In 2015, I was able to flower the plant and cross pollinate it with Monstera deliciosa and possibly Monstera adansonii (Friedrichsthalii). I noticed that the flowers looked much different than the Monstera dubia in color of spath, texture to the stems and petioles. Hopefully with these photos and more information we can finally put a name to this species.
In 2016, I was fortunate enough to get to go to Costa Rica. We visited several locations and found a lot of different Monstera species. Monstera dubia was fairly common in most of the interior jungles of Costa Rica. On the last few days of our trip we stayed on the west coast in a small city known as Jaco. While driving to our resort I saw this Monstera Velvet Shingler was growing on the roadside and in many of the properties in the area. It looked to be possibly the native spot where this plant may have originated. Our resort had the plant in the landscape. There were also several Monstera species growing in the large trees providing shade for the area.
We also visited a nature reserve a few miles from the resort and found Monstera dubia growing in the same area as the Monstera Velvet Shingler. I was hoping that if this was a form of Monstera dubia I would find some with both traits as a possible intermediate clone. I was unable to find any intermediate clones and they looked to be two separate species.
I believe this general area maybe the origin of this Monstera species. It will be interesting to see if it is common in other areas or if in fact it is just an unusual clone of Monstera dubia with some very unique traits.
An invitation to visit a friend who shared a few cuttings has lead to a wonderful mystery that I have been trying to solve for years and has left me with the burning question. What is that thing growing on Enid’s tree?