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Monstera Dubia; Shingle All The Way!

Plants do remarkable things. Each species exhibits unique structural and behavioural adaptations, honed over Millenia to help them compete and thrive in a multitude of diverse environments.

When researching a new plant at The Den this week, I was reminded again of how little we really know about our houseplants, and especially of their lifecycles in the wild. To prove this point, let me introduce you to a Monstera species you might not be familiar with; Monstera Dubia, Aka the Shingle Plant. This plant is remarkable for exhibiting two entirely different forms of foliage over the course of its lifecycle. So different in fact, that you'd understandably assume they belonged to separate plants.

Monstera Dubia starts its life as a seedling on the forest floor. It grows, vine-like, across it until it reaches a tree, at which point it will attach and begin the long, vertical climb up into the forest canopy. The leaves at this juvenile stage are small, heart shaped and mottled with silver (not dissimilar to a Satin Pothos) lying flat against the surface of the trunk and resembling shingles - hence its common name, the Shingle Plant. But by the time it has made the long journey to the top of its host tree and emerged above the canopy and into full light, the leaves have undergone a dramatic transformation. They are larger, (perhaps having quadrupled in size) and are solidly green having lost all variegation - they are deeply fenestrated and are no longer exhibiting their shingling habit. At this point they more closely resemble the leaves from a Monstera Deliciosa to which it is of course related.

One plant, two distinct forms of foliage, perfectly evolved to overcome the challenges of survival in a Jungle habitat.

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