Papaya leaf: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information

The papaya is a large, tree-like plant in the Caricaceae family, with a single stem growing between 5 to 10 m (16 to 33 ft) tall. Its spirally arranged leaves are confined to the top of the trunk. One can see where where these leaves and the fruit were borne on the lower part of the trunk. Papaya leaves are large, 50–70 cm (20–28 in) in diameter, with seven deeply palmately lobes. Unusually for plants this large, the trees are dioecious. The tree is usually unbranched, unless it has been lopped. The flowers are similar in shape to the flowers of the Plumeria, but they are much smaller and wax-like. The flowers grow on the axils of the leaves and mature into large fruit—15–45 cm (5.9–18 in) long and 10–30 cm (3.9–12 in) in diameter. The fruit is ripe when it feels soft (similar to ripe avocado or even a bit softer) and its skin shifts to an amber-to-orange hue.

common names & nomenclature
The genus of this plant Carica was given that name by Linnaeus because the leaves of these plants are like those of the common fig (Ficus carica).

The common name papaya comes from the Taíno word papáia, later changed in Spanish to papaya. In Australia and some countries of the Caribbean, the fruit is called papaw or pawpaw however another North American plant, Asimina triloba of the Annonaceae family has that name.

Also known as:
papaya, pawpaw, papaw, custard apple

Papaya Leaf, the tropical leaf of Mexico
Papaya leaf: Where in the World
habitat and range for papaya

Carica papaya is native to the tropics of the Americas, perhaps from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. It was first cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerican classical civilizations.

Papaya leaf: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting papaya

Papaya grows best in warm areas below 500 ft (152 m) elevation. Fruit production and quality decline at higher elevations, where cooler temperatures cause flower drop and cat-faced (carpelloidic) fruits.

Papaya can tolerate moderate winds if well rooted. Forty to 60 in (102 to 152 cm) of rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year is adequate for growth. With higher rainfall, soils should be porous and well drained. Planting on slopes or on raised hills helps to prevent waterlogging.

Papaya grows well on many types of soil, but they must be adequately drained. Restricted soil drainage promotes root diseases. Most commercial production in Hawaii is on porous aa lava. Production on other soil types is limited to low rainfall areas where restricted drainage is less likely to cause problems. Heavy clay and pahoehoe lava soils should be avoided.

Papaya is grown from seed. Dry seed may be stored for a year or more in airtight refrigerated containers. Fresh seeds will usually germinate in 10 to 14 days. Germination can be improved by removing the gelatinous outer seed coat before drying.

Seeds are sown either in containers or directly in the ground.

Papaya leaves may be harvested throughout the growing season and dried for later use.

Store dried papaya leaf in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Papaya leaf: The Rest of the Story
papaya history, folklore, literature & more

Centuries ago, the Caribbean Indians noticed that meat wrapped in papaya's broad leaves becomes tender. Today papaya extract is the active ingredient in most commercial meat tenderizers.

If you are lucky enough to live in the tropics, you can grow your own papaya tree.

Native to the Caribbean and now naturalized throughout the tropics, a papaya tree can reach 25 feet. Its trunk is hollow, with spongy wood and fibrous light-colored bark that is used to make rope. Its leaves are smooth, hand shaped (palmate), and large, often 2 feet across.

The fruits are yellow-green, pear shaped melons with tasty orange-yellow pulp. Papayas sold in the United States are typically about the size of large potatoes, but in the tropics, they grow to the size of large honeydews and can weigh up to 10 pounds. That's where the name melon tree comes from.