Papaya Tree (Carica papaya )

This has to be one of the easiest plants I’ve tried. I stuck in in the ground last spring. Then it didn’t rain for 4 months, and we were on strict water rations. Didn’t even phase this papaya. As you can see it grew itself up and just now in mid August has begun to fruit. That said it needs warm weather, it died during the first frost it experienced.

Papaya trees can reach 20′ tall, I’ve yet to see one over 6′ in the Houston area. Leaves can be 2′ across, mine are about a 1′ in width and 18″ in length.

The stem is soft, rings are from previous leaves, much like a palm.

I’ve read fruit and flowering occurs year round, I’ve only seen fruit late summer to fall locally.

There are male and female plants, male flowers are on short stalks, female on the trunk. You need both. I guess I just got lucky.

Grow in full sun. Loves lots of water I’m told, this one seems to have been just fine with out it this summer.

Like many tropical plants it has a white, milky sap, which should make you think it is toxic and it is toxic. Unripe fruit must be cooked and don’t eat the leaves.

Close relative of passion vine.

South American Native used as an important food source in ancient times. Many grow wild near the Mayan ruins. Interestingly papaya contains an enzyme which helps to dissolve raw meat. In Africa papaya leaves are wrapped around raw meat before it is eaten. The meat is then cooked in the leaves. ( see note about toxin and don’t try this at home ) Some believe the juice of the fruit aids stomach problems.

Several viruses can attack papaya, watch for rings on leaves and destroy plant if found. Also cotton root rot can attack papaya.

3 thoughts on “Papaya Tree (Carica papaya )

  1. There is a 15 foot or taller papaya tree in the RV park at 610 and Main Street. It is just inside the fence. You can see it from the road. Two years ago the tree was probably close to 20 feet tall. The cold weather in 2007 knocked it back a few feet.

  2. I unintentionally grew a few papaya plants last year in my compost pile. This past winter was just too cold and it wiped them out. About the unripened fruit: it is not toxic, it common in Thai cuisine where it is grated and used in salads. It is easy to find in Asian markets. Chopped up or grated unripened papaya can be used as a meat tenderizer.

Comments are closed.