Papaya - Carica papaya
Papaya section
Fig. 1

Papaya Cut
Fig. 2 
'Hawaii's papaya'
Fig. 3 

Papaya Female Flower Fig. 4
Female Flower

Papaya Male Flowers
Fig. 5
Male Flower

Close-up of female flowers and immature fruits Fig. 6  
Close-up of female flowers and immature fruits

Point of growth
Fig. 7 Point of growth

Papaya leaf
Fig. 8 

Papaya plant
Fig. 9

Growing in a woodland garden, Brazil
Fig. 10
Growing in a woodland garden, Brazil

Green Papaya Dubai Market
Fig. 11
Papayas Dubai market

Scientific name
Carica papaya
KAIR-rick-uh puh-PYE-yuh 6
Common names
Papaya and pawpaw (English and Spanish), malakor, loko, ma kuai thet (Thai), and du du (Vietnamese)
Carica peltata Hook. & Arn., C. posoposa L., Papaya carica Gaertn.
Mountain papaya (C. candamarcensis Hook.f.), babaco (C. x heilbornii var. pentagone), chamburo (C. pubescens)
Lowlands of Central America and southern Mexico, possibly West Indies (Caribbean). Center of diversification southern Mexico to Nicaragua 1
USDA hardiness zones
Fresh, juices, used in salads; fruit is also dried, candied, and made into pastes, jellies, and jams 1; seeds and leaves are edible 6
Up to 33 ft (10 m) tall
7 ft (2.13 m)
Plant habit
Herb with stout trunk
Growth rate
Generally short-lived although may live up to 20 years
Single stem but if injured it may put out more stems
Deeply lobed, palmate; from 10-24 in. (25.4-61 cm); short-lived, 6-8 months; grow from the top part of the stem in a spiral
There are 3 basic tree types, male plants, female plants, and hermaphroditic (bisexual) plants; fruit is normally only produced from female and bisexual plants
Melonlike; size and shape varies; 1/2-20 pds; flesh yellow to orange-red; numerous peppery black seeds
Best during July-Oct.; some fruit all year
USDA Nutrient Content pdf
Light requirement
Full sun; when subjected to shade the plant grows tall with increased internode length and etiolated leaves 5
Soil tolerances
Plants will do well with care in sands, loams, and rocky soils
PH preference
4.5 to 8.0
Drought tolerance
Lack of water (drought) will reduce growth and production
Aerosol salt tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Wind tolerance
Susceptible to wind damage and will not establish or grow well in continuously windy areas
Cold tolerance
Not tolerant of freezing temperatures and are damaged or killed below 31°F (-0.6°C)
Plant spacing
7 -12 ft (2.1-3.7 m)
Extensive root system
Invasive potential *
Not evaluated
Pest resistance
Papaya plants are attacked by a number of insect pests; should be mulched to alliviate nematode problems
Known hazards
Can cause skin irritation because of the action of fresh papaya latex, and of the possible hazard of consuming undercooked meat tenderized with papain; the pollen of papaya flowers has induced severe respiratory reactions in sensitive individuals 4

Reading Material

Papaya Growing in the Florida Home Landscape from the University of Florida pdf 7 pages
Papaya from Julia Morton's Book Fruits of Warm Climates
Fruitscapes from the University of Florida ext. link Dr. Crane discusses growing the papaya as well as some cultural practices such as fertilizer and watering strategies. He also describes fruit characteristics and plant types.


Though the exact area of origin is unknown, the papaya is believed native to tropical America, perhaps in southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. It is recorded that seeds were taken to Panama and then the Dominican Republic before 1525 and cultivation spread to warm elevations throughout South and Central America, southern Mexico, the West Indies and Bahamas, and to Bermuda in 1616. Spaniards carried seeds to the Philippines about 1550 and the papaya traveled from there to Malacca and India. Seeds were sent from India to Naples in 1626. Now the papaya is familiar in nearly all tropical regions of the Old World and the Pacific Islands and has become naturalized in many areas. Seeds were probably brought to Florida from the Bahamas. 4

Origin of the Papaya from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International

Enormous, simple, lobed leaves combine with a single trunk and delicious fruit to make this a desirable plant for many landscapes. Flowers are produced along the trunk from the leaf axil. Flowers on male plants are more conspicuous and showy; female flowers are borne close to the stem and usually go unnoticed. Fruit are produced in the leaf axil close to the trunk. The trunk becomes thickened, occasionally growing to 12 inches in diameter. Although older plants can reach 20 feet tall or more, most reach only 15 feet before dying. Plants are short lived but grow quickly. 2

The 5-petalled flowers are fleshy, waxy and slightly fragrant. Some plants bear only short-stalked pistillate (female) flowers, waxy and ivory-white; or hermaprodite (perfect) flowers (having female and male organs), ivory-white with bright-yellow anthers and borne on short stalks; while others may bear only staminate (male) flowers, clustered on panicles to
5 or 6 ft (1.5-1.8 m) long. There may even be monoecious plants having both male and
female flowers. 4

Generally, the fruit is melon-like, oval to nearly round, or elongated, 15-50 cm long and 10-20 cm thick; weighing over 10 kg. The skin is waxy and thin but fairly tough. When the fruit is green and hard it is rich in white latex. As it ripens, it becomes light or deep-yellow externally and the thick wall of succulent flesh becomes aromatic, yellow, orange or various shades of salmon or red. It is then juicy, sweetish and somewhat like a cantaloupe in flavour; in some types quite musky. Attached lightly to the wall by soft, white, fibrous tissue, are usually numerous small, black, peppery seeds about 5 mm long, each coated with a transparent, gelatinous aril. 5
The papaya fruit skin has a network of lactifers which in immature fruits contains an abundance of milky, proteolytic latex called papain. The papain is under pressure and spurts out when the skin is pricked. The lactifers collapse as the fruit ripens and there is little or no latex at the fully ripe stage. The papaya fruit skin has a network of lactifers which in immature fruits contains an abundance of milky, proteolytic latex called papain. The papain is under pressure and spurts out when the skin is pricked. The lactifers collapse as the fruit ripens and there is little or no latex at the fully ripe stage. 5

There are numerous varieties of papaya. However, very few are available to most urban residents because of the seeds are not commonly for sale in small amounts. Important varieties in the U.S. include 'Red Lady', 'Maradol', and various Solo-types. 1

Papaya Collection from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

Well-cared-for plants may begin to produce flowers 4 months after planting and fruit 7 to 11 months after planting. The amount of fruit produced by a papaya plant varies with the general climate, weather conditions during the year, and plant care. Yields vary from 60 to 80 lbs per tree over a 12 month period. 1

How to tell when a papaya is ripe Video ext. link

Why Some Papayas Fail to Fruit

Home gardeners should take steps to avoid having only a single papaya plant, in case it turns out to be a female. One way to accomplish this is have several plants in the garden, to ensure the possibility that at least one will be a hermaphrodite with pollen. 3

Why Some Papaya Plants Fail to Fruit from the University of Hawaii Extension pdf 12 pages


The bi-sexual plant is self-pollinating. The female plant needs either a male plant or bi-sexual plant nearby for pollination. The female flower is much larger than the bi-sexual flower.  The size of the ovary in the female flower is much bigger than the ovary of the bi-sexual flower, which is located at the bottom of the flower.

Papaya is mainly propagated by seed, but tissue culture and rooted cuttings are practiced to a limited extent. The sex of the plant is determined by its parents. 1

How to Grow Papaya from Seed
Pawpaws (Papaya) from Cuttings from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia


Papaya plants should be planted in full sun and at least 10 to 20 ft (3.1-6.1 m) away from other plants, buildings, and power lines. In general, planting 2 to 3 papaya plants 7 to 12 ft (2.1-3.7 m) away from each other will insure that at least one will be fruitful, and it will also facilitate fertilizing and watering. 1
Overcrowded fruits should be thinned out when young to provide room for good form development and avoid pressure injury. 4
After the first crop, the terminal growth may be nipped off to induce branching which tends to dwarf the plant and facilitates harvesting. 4
Select the warmest area of the landscape that does not flood (or remain wet) after typical summer rainfall.


Papaya plants are not pruned because their main growing point is terminal, and branched trees generally do not produce as well. If the main growing point is damage or killed, side sprouts may grow. Selecting 1 or 2 of the most vigorous shoots and removing the others will facilitate growth and fruiting of the remaining shoots. Tying these side shoots to a stake will reduce the chance they may break off due to a heavy fruit load or high winds. 1

Fertilizer Recommendations
Boron Deficiency in Papaya from the University of Hawai'i pdf 4 pages


Watering is essential for best papaya plant growth and fruit production. Papaya plants that lack water (drought stress) may drop flowers, leaves, and young fruit and produce small fruit of low sugar content. 1

Diseases Page

Pests Page

Injuries and Other Symptoms

Food Uses

Ripe papayas are most commonly eaten fresh, merely peeled, seeded, cut in wedges and served with a half or quarter of lime or lemon. Sometimes a few seeds are left attached for those who enjoy their peppery flavor but not many should be eaten. 4
Unripe papaya is never eaten raw because of its latex content. [Raw green papaya is frequently used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking.] Even for use in salads, it must first be peeled, seeded, and boiled until tender, then chilled. Green papaya is frequently boiled and served as a vegetable. 4
Young leaves and flowers boiled, roots boiled a long time, inner pith of main trunk raw. 6

Papaya from the Taste of the Tropics cookbook

Medicinal Uses **
Studies at the University of Nigeria have revealed that extracts of ripe and unripe papaya fruits and of the seeds are active against gram-positive bacteria. Strong doses are effective against gram-negative bacteria. The substance has protein-like properties. The fresh crushed seeds yield the aglycone of glucotropaeolin benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) which is bacteriostatic, bactericidal and fungicidal. A single effective does is 4-5 g seeds (25-30 mg BITC). 4

Other Uses
The latex of the papaya plant and its green fruits contains two proteolytic enzymes, papain and chymopapain. The latter is most abundant but papain is twice as potent.  One of the best known uses of papain is in commercial products marketed as meat tenderizers, especially for home use. 4

The papaya is regarded as a fair source of iron and calcium; a good source of vitamins A, B and G and an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
How to Protect your Papaya Fruit from the Papaya Fruit Fly
More Images and Information
Papaya, the Medicine Tree from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Papaya from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
A New Pawpaw (papaya) from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia
Papaya Post Harvest Operations from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Papaya Proliferation from Green Deane,

List of Growers and Vendors

1 Crane, Jonathan."Papaya Growing in the Home Landscape." Horticultural Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Publication date: 1986. Revised Nov. 2016. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
2 Gilman, Edward, F. "Carica Papaya Papaya." One of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Oct. 1999. Reviewed Feb. 2014. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.
3 Chia, C. L. and Manshardt, M. "Why some papayas fail to fruit." College of Tropical Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Hawaii, at Manoa, Cooperative Extension Service. Oct. 2001. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.
4 Morton, J. "Papaya." Fruits of warm climates. p. 336-346. 1987. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.
5 "Papaya biology." Web. 9 Sept. 2016.
6 Deane, Green. "Papaya Proliferation." Eat the Weeds and Other Things Too website. Accessed 5 July 2017.


Fig. 1,4,5,9 Carica papaya. N.d. Top Tropicals Tropical Plant Catalog. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.
Fig. 2,3,7,11 Jackson, Karen. "Papaya Series." 2013. JPEG file.
Fig. 6 Yosri. Close-up of female flowers and immature fruits. Under GNU Free Documentation License. Web. 9 Sept. 2016.
Fig. 8 Joydeep. Carica papaya leaf. 2012. Under (CC BY-SA 3.0). Web. 9 Sept. 2016.
Fig. 10 Fern, Ajna. Growing in a woodland garden, Brazil. Web. 9 Sept. 2016.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 20 Oct. 2013 LR. Last update 5 July 2017 LR
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