The Myth of Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana, And Their Variegated Forms

Basic Witch

In my last article about different variegated forms of Monsteras, I brushed upon the difference between Monstera Deliciosa and Monstera Borsigiana.
Photo by Anne Nygård & KOBU Agency on Unsplash

However, this is not something that one can articulate in a single sentence. There are many different voices about whether these two forms of Monsteras are genuinely different. If you are here, you are probably wondering which variety to purchase, or if you have the right kind of Monstera as intended when you bought it.

Many myths around the subject matter are created by different marketing strategies and trade names coined by the houseplant market. Let's have a look at all the prominent voices about whether a Monstera Deliciosa is other than a Borsigiana. And if yes, what are the differences?

1. Scientifically Speaking…

Scientifically speaking, Monstera Deliciosa is the only accepted name in the science community. Monstera Borsigiana is generally treated as a synonym of Monstera Deliciosa and used interchangeably.

However, it is undeniable that a plant labeled as Monstera Deliciosa does exhibit different look and grow patterns than a Borsigiana. Is it because they are indeed two different plants? Or is it because Borsigiana is just a juvenile form of Deliciosa and has been mistakenly categorized as another form of the plant?

2. The Size

In the houseplant market, a Monstera Borsigiana is generally seen as a dwarf form of Deliciosa.

In my general introduction on Monstera Deliciosa, I mentioned that a mature Deliciosa could potentially grow to 6.6 - 9.8 ft tall with big leaves ranging from 1-2 ft in diameter.

However, many plant sellers claim that the Borsigiana's mature form is comparably shorter, and their mature leaves smaller.
Left: A mature Monstera Deliciosa Leaf; Right: Monstera Borsigiana leaves

But, it is interesting that I have never encountered an aged Monstera Borsigiana. Yet, I have seen many Monstera Deliciosas that are more than ten years old.

So is this observation of the size difference skewed due to Borsigiana's limited time in the houseplant market? Or is there a real difference?

3. The Grow Pattern

In general, Borsigianas are believed to grow faster than Deliciosas.

Moreover, Deliciosas are said to be less likely to be "vining," A.K.A grow while climbing on something like a moss pole. There have been cases when mature Deliciosa vines. But it is rarely observed when a juvenile Deliciosa does so. While Borsigianas, on the other hand, tend to vine at a very early stage in its life.
A vining Monstera. Photo Credit to HousePlantHouse.

4. The "Wrinkle"

It is generally believed that a lot of Borsigiana nowadays are being passed off as Deliciosa in the houseplant market. However, this might be genuinely due to the scientific categorization that treats the two as the same. Or, it is because the juvenile forms of these two kinds of Monsteras are pretty much indistinguishable.

However, some houseplant retailers suggest that the best way to tell if you have a Deliciosa or Borsigiana is to check the top of the mature leaves.

Where the stem meets the leaf, a Deliciosa will have a "wrinkle" that the Borsigiana does not.
The "wrinkle" on Monstera Deliciosa. Photo Credit to @mrsixxtyy

However, this is impossible to inspect if you have a small/medium-sized Monstera. Because such "wrinkles" only appear on mature Monsteras.

It is believed that the immature leaves of Deliciosa have not yet developed this kind of "wrinkles."

The name for the "wrinkled attachment" is geniculum. It comes from the Latin word for the knee.

With the geniculum, the petiole can flex and turn, allowing the leaf to face the best light direction.

5. The origin

There have been claims that Monstera Borsigiana is a South American variety of Monstera Deliciosa, whereas the original Deliciosa originated from Mexico.

6. The Variegated forms

This is the exciting part. The difference between a variegated Deliciosa and a variegated Borsigiana is really making a difference in pricing.

As I mentioned in my article about Monstera's different variegated forms, there are only two scientifically recognized variegation forms: Yellow and White. And the way the houseplant market categorizes and price variegated Monstera Deliciosa and Borsigiana is very confusing.

First, suppose we treat Deliciosa and Borsigiana as two different entities. In that case, it is just bizarre that all the Albo-variegated (white) Monsteras are also called Monstera Borsigiana Albo. And all the Aurea-variegated (yellow) Monsteras are interchangeable with Monstera Borsigiana Aurea.
Left: Monstera Aurea-Variegata; Right: Monstera Deliciosa Albo-Variegata. Photo credit to @bigleaflover

It seems like when it comes to white and yellow variegations (Albo and Aurea), Deliciosa and Borsigiana become indistinguishable.

However, another theory and naming strategy propel the difference between the two forms. Many sellers claim that "Thai Constellation," a Monstera variegation with cream/white colored speckles, is the variegation of a true Deliciosa. And because of this, unlike the Borsigiana Albo-Variegata or Borsigiana Aurea-Variegata, it can grow as big as a regular Deliciosa.
Monstera "Thai Constellation"

Moreover, it is believed that the "Thai Constellation" is the only "stable" form of Monstera variegation because the natural genetic mutation changes all the cells in the plant.

Whereas in Borsigiana Albo and Borsigiana Aurea, the variegation can revert because mutated, variegated cells are constantly competing with normal, green cells.

An Inconclusive Conclusion

I have not found a convincing enough, authoritative voice yet to bring the myth of Deliciosa vs. Borsigiana to clarity. But being as objective as I can, these are all the information circulating in the plant community about these two Monstera forms.

What's your verdict? Leave your comment below!

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