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Carica Papaya Classification Essay

Carica papaya, papaya is a giant herbaceous plant--resembling a tree but not woody--in the Caricaceae (papaya family) that originated in Central America and is now grown in tropical areas world-wide for its large, sweet, melon-like fruits. The name “papaya” also refers to the fruit of other Carica species, including C. pubescens and C. stipulata, and their various hybrids.

Sometimes called paw-paw, although that name more typically applies to the species Asimona triloba, the papaya plant has a hollow, green or purple stem, and can grow 1.8 to 3 m (6 to 10 ft) in a year, eventually reaching heights of 6 to 9 m (20 to 30 ft). The long-petioled (stemmed) leaves, which may be 30 to 105 cm long (1 to 3.5 ft) and 30 to 60 cm (1 to 2 ft) wide, are deeply divided into 5 to 9 main segments, which are further lobed. Both leaves and stems contain large amounts of white, milky latex.

Papaya plants are generally dioecious, with short-stalked female (pistillate) flowers, which are 5-petalled, waxy, and white, borne on separate plants from the male (staminate) flowers, which are borne on long panicles (up to 1.8 m or 6 ft). Plants may also bear hermaphroditic or perfect flowers, which have both pistils and stamens, or they may be monoecious, bearing separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The fruit that develops varies in shape depending on the flower type. Fruits from female flowers are usually oval to round and smaller than the fruits that develop from perfect flowers, which are cylindrical or club-shaped, up to 50 cm (20 in) long and 20 cm (8 in) wide. The fruits, which can weigh up to 9 kg (20 lbs)—although common commercial cultivars generally produce fruits that weigh 0.5 to 2.25 kg (1 to 5 lbs)—and have a thin but tough waxy skin. Green fruits contain latex, which disappears as the fruit ripens to light or dark yellow. The flesh of the fruit varies from yellow to orange to red, and is thick and juicy, with a central cavity filled with many small black seeds.

Papayas, which are high in vitamins A and C and calcium, are often used fresh in fruit salads and desserts, as well as prepared in juices and jams or dried. Some Southeast Asian dishes call for the unripe fruits to be cooked and used as vegetables. Papayas produce an enzyme, papain, which aids digestion and is used to tenderize meat. Papain has been used in medicine to treat ulcers and reduce skin adhesions following surgery, and studies have shown that it has antimicrobial properties. Papain is also used to clarify beer, prepare wool and silk for dyeing, and remove hair from hides before tanning, among other uses.

The FAO estimates that total commercial production of papayas in 2010 was 11.2 million metric tons, harvested from nearly 439,000 hectares, India is the leading producer of papayas, responsible for 42% of the world’s crop. Other major producers include Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Mexico. Papayas were previously grown in Florida, but they are susceptible to numerous pests and pathogens, including mosaic viruses transmitted by aphids including Myzus persicae, that have wiped out most commercial plantings there.

(Bailey et al. 1976, FAO 2012, Hedrick 1919, Morton 1987, van Wyk 2005.)


This article is about Carica papaya, the widely cultivated papaya (also called papaw or pawpaw), a tropical fruit plant. For the mountain papaya (Vasconcellea pubescens) of South America, see Mountain papaya. For the Eastern North American tree (and fruit) called "pawpaw", see Asimina triloba. For other uses, see Papaya (disambiguation).

Not to be confused with Chaenomeles speciosa (flowering quince) or Pseudocydonia chinensis (Chinese quince), which like Carica papaya are sometimes called mugua.

The papaya ( or US:) (from Carib via Spanish), papaw, ([2]) or pawpaw ([2]) [3] is the plantCarica papaya, one of the 22 accepted species in the genusCarica of the family Caricaceae.[4] Its origin is in the tropics of the Americas, perhaps from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America.[5]


The papaya is a small, sparsely branched plant, usually with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 m (16 to 33 ft) tall, with spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk. The lower trunk is conspicuously scarred where leaves and fruit were borne. The leaves are large, 50–70 cm (20–28 in) in diameter, deeply palmately lobed, with seven lobes. All parts of the plant contain latex in articulated laticifers.[6] Unusually for such large plants, the plant are dioecious. The flowers are 5-parted and highly dimorphic, the male flowers with the stamens fused to the petals. The female flowers have a superior ovary and five contorted petals loosely connected at the base.[7]:235 Male and female flowers are borne in the leaf axils, the males in multiflowered dichasia, the female flowers is few-flowered dichasia. The flowers are sweet-scented, open at night and are moth-pollinated.[6] The fruit is a large berry about 15–45 cm (5.9–17.7 in) long and 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) in diameter.[6]:88 It is ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue.

Origin and distribution[edit]

Native to Mexico and northern South America,[1][6][5] papaya has become naturalized throughout the Caribbean Islands, Florida, Texas, California, Hawaii, and other tropical and subtropical regions of the world.[1][8]


Papaya plants grow in three sexes: male, female, hermaphrodite. The male produces only pollen, never fruit. The female will produce small, inedible fruits unless pollinated. The hermaphrodite can self-pollinate since its flowers contain both male stamens and female ovaries. Almost all commercial papaya orchards contain only hermaphrodites.[9]

Originally from southern Mexico (particularly Chiapas and Veracruz), Central America, and northern South America,[5] the papaya is now cultivated in most tropical countries. In cultivation, it grows rapidly, fruiting within three years. It is, however, highly frost-sensitive, limiting its production to tropical climates. Temperatures below −2 °C (29 °F) are greatly harmful if not fatal. In Florida, California, and Texas, growth is generally limited to southern parts of the states. It prefers sandy, well-drained soil, as standing water will kill the plant within 24 hours.[10]

For cultivation, however, only female plants are used, since they give off a single flower each time, and close to the base of the plant, while the male gives off multiple flowers in long stems, which result in poorer quality fruit.[clarification needed][5]


Two kinds of papayas are commonly grown. One has sweet, red or orange flesh, and the other has yellow flesh; in Australia, these are called "red papaya" and "yellow papaw", respectively.[11] Either kind, picked green, is called a "green papaya".

The large-fruited, red-fleshed 'Maradol', 'Sunrise', and 'Caribbean Red' papayas often sold in U.S. markets are commonly grown in Mexico and Belize.[5][12]

In 2011, Philippine researchers reported that by hybridizing papaya with Vasconcellea quercifolia, they had developed conventionally bred, nongenetically engineered papaya resistant to PRV.[13]

Genetically engineered cultivars[edit]

Carica papaya was the first transgenicfruit tree to have its genome sequenced.[14] In response to the papaya ringspot virus (PRV) outbreak in Hawaii, in 1998, genetically altered papaya were approved and brought to market (including 'SunUp' and 'Rainbow' varieties.) Varieties resistant to PRV have some DNA of this virus incorporated into the DNA of the plant.[15][16] As of 2010, 80% of Hawaiian papaya plants were genetically modified. The modifications were made by University of Hawaii scientists who made the modified seeds available to farmers without charge.[17][18]

Diseases and pests[edit]


Papaya ringspot virus is a well-known virus within plants in Florida.[5] The first signs of the virus are yellowing and vein-clearing of younger leaves, as well as mottling yellow leaves. Infected leaves may obtain blisters, roughen or narrow, with blades sticking upwards from the middle of the leaves. The petioles and stems may develop dark green greasy streaks and in time become shorter. The ringspots are circular, C-shaped markings that are darker green than the fruit itself. In the later stages of the virus, the markings may become gray and crusty. Viral infections impact growth and reduce the fruit's quality. One of the biggest effects that viral infections have on papaya is the taste. As of 2010, the only way to protect papaya from this virus is genetic modification.[19]

The papaya mosaic virus destroys the plant until only a small tuft of leaves are left. The virus affects both the leaves of the plant and the fruit. Leaves show thin, irregular, dark-green lines around the borders and clear areas around the veins. The more severely affected leaves are irregular and linear in shape. The virus can infect the fruit at any stage of its maturity. Fruits as young as 2 weeks old have been spotted with dark-green ringspots about 1 inch in diameter. Rings on the fruit are most likely seen on either the stem end or the blossom end. In the early stages of the ringspots, the rings tend to be many closed circles, but as the disease develops, the rings will increase in diameter consisting of one large ring. The difference between the ringspot and the mosaic viruses is the ripe fruit in the ringspot has mottling of colors and mosaic does not.[20]


The fungus anthracnose is known to specifically attack papaya, especially the mature fruits. The disease starts out small with very few signs, such as water-soaked spots on ripening fruits. The spots become sunken, turn brown or black, and may get bigger. In some of the older spots, the fungus may produce pink spores. The fruit ends up being soft and having an off flavor because the fungus grows into the fruit.[21]

The fungus powdery mildew occurs as a superficial white presence on the surface of the leaf in which it is easily recognized. Tiny, light yellow spots begin on the lower surfaces of the leaf as the disease starts to make its way. The spots enlarge and white powdery growth appears on the leaves. The infection usually appears at the upper leaf surface as white fungal growth. Powdery mildew is not as severe as other diseases.[22]

The fungus phytophthorablight causes damping-off, root rot, stem rot, stem girdling, and fruit rot. Damping-off happens in young plants by wilting and death. The spots on established plants start out as white, water-soaked lesions at the fruit and branch scars. These spots enlarge and eventually cause death. The most dangerous feature of the disease is the infection of the fruit which may be toxic to consumers.[21] The roots can also be severely and rapidly infected, causing the plant to brown and wilt away, collapsing within days.


The papaya fruit fly lays its eggs inside of the fruit, possibly up to 100 or more eggs.[5] The eggs usually hatch within 12 days when they begin to feed on seeds and interior parts of the fruit. When the larvae mature usually 16 days after being hatched, they eat their way out of the fruit, drop to the ground, and pupate in the soil to emerge within one to two weeks later as mature flies. The infected papaya will turn yellow and drop to the ground after infestation by the papaya fruit fly.[21]

The two-spotted spider mite is a 0.5-mm-long brown or orange-red or a green, greenish yellow translucent oval pest. They all have needle-like piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed by piercing the plant tissue with their mouthparts, usually on the underside of the plant. The spider mites spin fine threads of webbing on the host plant, and when they remove the sap, the mesophyll tissue collapses and a small chlorotic spot forms at the feeding sites. The leaves of the papaya fruit turn yellow, gray, or bronze. If the spider mites are not controlled, they can cause the death of the fruit.[21]

The papaya whitefly lays yellow, oval eggs that appear dusted on the undersides of the leaves. They eat papaya leaves, therefore damaging the fruit. There, the eggs developed into flies in three stages called instars. The first instar has well-developed legs and is the only mobile immature life stage. The crawlers insert their mouthparts in the lower surfaces of the leaf when they find it suitable and usually do not move again in this stage. The next instars are flattened, oval, and scale-like. In the final stage, the pupal whiteflies are more convex, with large, conspicuously red eyes.[21]


In 2014, global production of papayas was 12.7 million tonnes, led by India with 44% of the world total (table). Global papaya production grew significantly over the early 21st Century, mainly as a result of increased production in India and demand by the United States.[24]


Raw papaya pulp contains 88% water, 11% carbohydrates, and negligible fat and protein (table). In a 100 gram amount, papaya fruit provides 43 kilocalories and is a significant source of vitamin C (75% of the Daily Value, DV) and a moderate source of folate (10% DV), but otherwise has low content of nutrients (see table).

Culinary uses[edit]

The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. The unripe green fruit can be eaten cooked, usually in curries, salads, and stews. Green papaya is used in Southeast Asian cooking, both raw and cooked.[25] In Thai cuisine, papaya is used to make Thai salads such as som tam and Thai curries such as kaeng som when still not fully ripe. In Indonesian cuisine, the unripe green fruits and young leaves are boiled for use as part of lalab salad, while the flower buds are sautéed and stir-fried with chillies and green tomatoes as Minahasan papaya flower vegetable dish. Papayas have a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies. The smell of ripe, fresh papaya flesh can strike some people as unpleasant. In Brazil, the unripe fruits are often used to make sweets or preserves.

The black seeds of the papaya are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste.[5] They are sometimes ground and used as a substitute for black pepper.

In some parts of Asia, the young leaves of the papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach.

Meat tenderizing[edit]

Both green papaya fruit and the plant's latex are rich in papain,[5] a protease used for tenderizingmeat and other proteins, as practiced currently by indigenous Americans and people of the Caribbean region.[5] It is now included as a component in some powdered meat tenderizers.[5]


Papaya skin, pulp and seeds contain a variety of phytochemicals, including carotenoids and polyphenols,[26] as well as benzyl isothiocyanates and benzyl glucosinates, with skin and pulp levels that increase during ripening.[27] Papaya seeds also contain the cyanogenic substance prunasin.[28]

Traditional medicine[edit]

In some parts of the world, papaya leaves are made into tea as a treatment for malaria, but the mechanism is not understood and no treatment method based on these results has been scientifically proven.[29]

Allergies and side effects[edit]

Papaya releases a latex fluid when not ripe, possibly causing irritation and an allergic reaction in some people.[5]


  • Mature tree with unripe fruit in Kinshasa


  1. ^ abc"Carica papaya L". U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. 9 May 2011. Retrieved 5 September 2017. 
  2. ^ ab"Papaw". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  3. ^In North America, papaw or pawpaw usually means the plant belonging to the Annonaceae family or its fruit. Ref.: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (2009), published in United States.
  4. ^"Carica". 2013. 
  5. ^ abcdefghijklMorton JF (1987). "Papaya". NewCROP, the New Crop Resource Online Program, Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University; from p. 336–346. In: Fruits of warm climates, JF Morton, Miami, FL. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  6. ^ abcdHeywood, VH; Brummitt, RK; Culham, A; Seberg, O (2007). Flowering plant families of the world. Firefly Books. ISBN 9781554072064. 
  7. ^Ronse De Craene, L.P. (2010). Floral diagrams: an aid to understanding flower morphology and evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-49346-8. 
  8. ^"Papayas"(PDF). University of California at Davis. 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2017. 
  9. ^C. L. Chia and Richard M. Manshardt, (2001). "Why Some Papaya Plants Fail to Fruit"(PDF). Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  10. ^Boning, Charles R. (2006). Florida's Best Fruiting Plants: Native and Exotic Trees, Shrubs, and Vines. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press, Inc. pp. 166–167. 
  11. ^"Papaya Varieties". Papaya Australia. 2015. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  12. ^Sagon, Candy (13 October 2004). "Maradol Papaya". Market Watch (13 Oct 2004). The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  13. ^Siar, S. V.; Beligan, G. A.; Sajise, A. J. C.; Villegas, V. N.; Drew, R. A. (2011). "Euphytica, Volume 181, Number 2". Euphytica. SpringerLink. 181 (2): 159–168. doi:10.1007/s10681-011-0388-z. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  14. ^"Scientists decipher fruit tree genome for the first time". 
  15. ^"Genetically Altered Papayas Save the Harvest". 
  16. ^"". Archived from the original on 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  17. ^Ronald, Pamela and McWilliams, James (14 May 2010) Genetically Engineered Distortions The New York Times, accessed 1 October 2012
  18. ^[1]Archived March 31, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^Gonsalves, D., S. Tripathi, J. B. Carr, and J. Y. Suzuki (2010). "Papaya ringspot virus". 
  20. ^Hine, B.R.; Holtsmann, O.V.; Raabe, R.D. (July 1965). "Disease of papaya in Hawaii"(PDF). 
  21. ^ abcdeMossler, M.A.; Crane, J. (September 2002). "Florida crop/pest management profile: papaya"(PDF). 
  22. ^Cunningham, B. & Nelson, S. (2012, June). "Powdery mildew of papaya in Hawaii"(PDF). 
  23. ^"Papaya production in 2014; Crops/Regions/World list/Production Quantity (pick lists)". UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT). 2017. Retrieved 19 August 2017. 
  24. ^"An Overview of Global Papaya Production, Trade, and Consumption". Electronic Data Information Source, University of Florida. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  25. ^Natty Netsuwan. "Green Papaya Salad Recipe". Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  26. ^Rivera-Pastrana DM, Yahia EM, González-Aguilar GA (2010). "Phenolic and carotenoid profiles of papaya fruit (Carica papaya L.) and their contents under low temperature storage". J Sci Food Agric. 90 (14): 2358–65. doi:10.1002/jsfa.4092. PMID 20632382. 
  27. ^Rossetto MR, Oliveira do Nascimento JR, Purgatto E, Fabi JP, Lajolo FM, Cordenunsi BR (2008). "Benzylglucosinolate, benzylisothiocyanate, and myrosinase activity in papaya fruit during development and ripening". J Agric Food Chem. 56 (20): 9592–9. doi:10.1021/jf801934x. PMID 18826320. 
  28. ^Seigler DS, Pauli GF, Nahrstedt A, Leen R (2002). "Cyanogenic allosides and glucosides from Passiflora edulis and Carica papaya". Phytochemistry. 60 (8): 873–82. doi:10.1016/s0031-9422(02)00170-x. PMID 12150815. 
  29. ^Titanji, V.P.; Zofou, D.; Ngemenya, M.N. (2008). "The Antimalarial Potential of Medicinal Plants Used for the Treatment of Malaria in Cameroonian Folk Medicine". African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines. 5 (3): 302–321. PMC 2816552. PMID 20161952. 

External links[edit]

Papayas with yellow flesh