Tropical American natives related to philodendrons and resembling them in the glossiness and texture of their foliage. Most have cut and perforated leaves. Need rich soil. They can be grown outdoors only in the Tropical South. Indoors, direct sun in winter and bright reflected light the rest of the year are ideal; in dim light, leaves will be small and widely spaced on long, droopy stalks. If a tall potted plant gets bare at the base, replant it in a larger container along with a younger, lower plant to fill in; or cut it back and let it regrow from new shoots. Plants benefit from frequent misting.
M. deliciosa. SPLIT-LEAF PHILODENDRON, CUT-LEAF PHILODENDRON. To 3060 ft. if planted in open bed outdoors or in greenhouse. Protect from frost (recovers fairly quickly from frost damage, though). Long, cordlike roots hang from stems and root when they reach soil; they also help support plant on trees or on moss logs. Young foliage is uncut; mature leaves are heavy, leathery, dark green, deeply cut, and perforated. Big plants may bear flowers like those of calla (Zantedeschia), with a thick, 10-in.-long spike surrounded by a boatlike white bract. If heat, light, and humidity are high, spike may ripen into edible fruit said to combine flavors of banana and pineapple. Eat only when fully ripe (green, caplike rind will knock off easily, exposing sticky fruit kernels); fruit can be painfully caustic before that stage. Allow plenty of room when growing this species as a houseplant; it may reach 15 ft. Often sold as Philodendron pertusum.
M. obliqua (M. friedrichsthalii). SWISS CHEESE PLANT. Plant can reach 25 ft. outdoors but is more commonly used as indoor plant. Smaller, thinner-textured leaves than those of M. deliciosa, with wavy rather than deeply cut edges. Common name comes from oval holes on either side of leaf midrib.