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CARICA papaya

Image of Carica papaya

James H. Schutte

Family

Caricaceae

Botanical Name

CARICA papaya

Plant Common Name

Papaya

General Description

Papaya is a small, short-lived tropical tree-like herb bearing large melon-shaped fruits directly on its thick stem. The large scalloped, seven-lobed leaves top the hollow trunk. The fruit is edible and enzymes from the plant are used as meat tenderizer. Ordinarily you need both male and female plants for fruit production, however some plants have both gender flowers on the same plant.

Papaya needs a full sun to partial sun exposure, it appreciates heat. In the warm months, ensure it has plenty of water and fertilizer. Plan on only a couple seasons of growth and worthwhile production per plant. Have saplings or seeds germinating on a staggered schedule to allow for continual renewal of a grove for nice fruit production.

Popular papaya cultivars include the old favorite 'Solo' with a red-orange flesh and superior quality that is a bisexual and therefore self-fertile tree. 'Red Lady' with a favorable sweet flesh and somewhat shorter overall height. 'Mexican Red' and 'Mexican Yellow' are large-bearing fruit plants, with rosy and yellow mildly sweet flesh, respectively. Dwarf varieties that are well suited to containers include 'Kamiya' with many small fruits with a very sweet flavor and 'Sunrise' and 'Sunset' that are much like 'Solo' except with a much smaller stature. 'Waimanolo' has orange-yellow fresh and has a great shelf life and often is the fruit of choice for fresh markets or processing/high amounts of handling.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 21, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Fruit

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    15'-25' / 4.6m - 7.6m (20)

  • Width

    3'-8' / 0.9m - 2.4m (6)

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Ivory

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Orange, Light Yellow

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sienna

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No