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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Papaya tree and fruit, from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants (1887)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Caricaceae
Genus: Carica
Species: C. papaya
Binomial name
Carica papaya

The papaya (from Carib via Spanish) is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, in the genus Carica. It is native to the tropics of the Americas, and was cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerican classic cultures. It is often called a "paw paw" or a "big melon" but the North American pawpaw is a different species, in the genus Asimina.

It is a large tree-like plant, with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 metres (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 centimetres (20–28 in) diameter, deeply palmately lobed with 7 lobes. The tree is usually unbranched if unlopped. The flowers are similar in shape to the flowers of the Plumeria but are much smaller and wax-like. They appear on the axils of the leaves, maturing into the large 15–45 centimetres (5.9–18 in) long, 10–30 centimetres (3.9–12 in) diameter fruit. The fruit is ripe when it feels soft (like a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue. The fruit's taste is vaguely similar to pineapple and peach, although much milder without the tartness.

It is the first fruit tree to have its genome deciphered.[1]



Originally from southern Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central America and northern South America, the papaya is now cultivated in most tropical countries, such as Brazil, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Haiti, and Southeast Asia.

The papaya fruit is susceptible to the Papaya Fruit Fly. This wasp-like fly lays its eggs in young fruit. In cultivation it grows rapidly fruiting within 3 years, however it is highly frost sensitive.

In the 1990s, two varieties of papaya, SunUp and Rainbow, that had been genetically-modified to be resistant to the papaya ring spot virus, were introduced into Hawaii.[2] By 2004, non-genetically modified and organic papayas throughout Hawaii had experienced hybridization with the genetically-modified varieties.[3]


Papaya has many uses, including as food, as cooking aid, in medicine. The stem and the bark are also used in rope production.


The ripe fruit is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. The unripe green fruit of papaya can be eaten cooked, usually in curries, salads and stews. It has a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies.

Green papaya is used in Thai cuisine, both raw and cooked.[4]

The black seeds are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They are sometimes ground up and used as a substitute for black pepper. In some parts of Asia the young leaves of papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach. In parts of the world papaya leaves are made into tea as a preventative for Malaria, though there is no real scientific evidence for the effectiveness of this treatment.[5]

Papaya, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 163 kJ (39 kcal)
Carbohydrates 9.81 g
Sugars 5.90 g
Dietary fibre 1.8 g
Fat 0.14 g
Protein 0.61 g
Vitamin A equiv. 55 μg (6%)
- beta-carotene 276 μg (3%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.04 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.05 mg (3%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.338 mg (2%)
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg (8%)
Vitamin C 61.8 mg (103%)
Calcium 24 mg (2%)
Iron 0.10 mg (1%)
Magnesium 10 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 5 mg (1%)
Potassium 257 mg (5%)
Sodium 3 mg (0%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.


Green papaya fruit and the tree's latex are both rich in an enzyme called papain, a protease which is useful in tenderizing meat and other proteins. Its ability to break down tough meat fibers was used for thousands of years by indigenous Americans. It is included as a component in powdered meat tenderizers.


Papaya is marketed in tablet form to remedy digestive problems.

Papain is also applied topically (in countries where it grows) for the treatment of cuts, rashes, stings and burns. Papain ointment is commonly made from fermented papaya flesh, and is applied as a gel-like paste. Harrison Ford was treated for a ruptured disc incurred during filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom by papain injections.[6]

Women in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other countries have long used green papaya as a folk remedy for contraception and abortion. Enslaved women in the West Indies were noted for consuming papaya to prevent pregnancies and thus preventing their children from being born into slavery. Medical research in animals has confirmed the contraceptive and abortifacient capability of papaya, and also found that papaya seeds have contraceptive effects in adult male langur monkeys, possibly in adult male humans as well.[7] Unripe papaya is especially effective in large amounts or high doses. Ripe papaya is not teratogenic and will not cause miscarriage in small amounts. Phytochemicals in papaya may suppress the effects of progesterone.[8]

Allergies and side-effects

Papaya is frequently used as a hair conditioner but should be used in small proportions. Papaya releases a latex fluid when not quite ripe, which can cause irritation and provoke allergic reaction in some people. The papaya fruit, seeds, latex, and leaves also contains carpaine, an anthelmintic alkaloid (a drug that removes parasitic worms from the body) which can be dangerous in high doses.

It is speculated that unripe papayas may cause miscarriage due to latex content that may cause uterine contractions which may lead to a miscarriage. Papaya seed extracts in large doses have a contraceptive effect on rats and monkeys, but in small doses have no effect on the unborn animals.

Excessive consumption of papaya can cause carotenemia, the yellowing of soles and palms which is otherwise harmless, although since papaya has 16x less beta carotene than carrots per 100g (the most common source of carotenemia) you'd have to eat a lot.[9]

Medicinal potential

Papaya. Moche Culture. Larco Museum Collection. The Moche often depicted papayas in their ceramics.[10]
  • The juice has an antiproliferative effect on in vitro liver cancer cells, probably due to its component of lycopene.[11]
  • Papaya seed could be used as an antibacterial agent for Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, although further research is needed before advocating large-scale therapy.[12]
  • Papaya seed extract may be nephroprotective (protect the kidneys) in toxicity-induced kidney failure[13]
  • Raw, fresh papaya leaves ground into juice can increase platelet count dramatically in a matter of days.


Names in other languages

Translations are available at Wiktionary:papaya.

Photo gallery

Notes and references

  1. ^ University of Granada
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Green Papaya Salad Recipe -
  5. ^
  6. ^ Entry on Harrison Ford's back treatment.
  7. ^ Lohiya, N. K.; B. Manivannan, P. K. Mishra, N. Pathak, S. Sriram, S. S. Bhande, and S. Panneerdoss (March 2002). "Chloroform extract of Carica papaya seeds induces long-term reversible azoospermia in langur monkey" ( – Scholar search). Asian Journal of Andrology 4: 17–26. Retrieved 2006-11-18.  
  8. ^ Oderinde, O. "Abortifacient properties of Carica papaya (Linn) seeds in female Sprague-Dawley rats". Niger Postgrad Medical Journal. PMID 12163882.  
  9. ^
  10. ^ Berrin, Katherine & Larco Museum. The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1997.
  11. ^ Rahmat, Asmah et al.. "Antiproliferative activity of pure lycopene compared to both extracted lycopene and juices from watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris) and papaya (Carica papaya) on human breast and liver cancer cell lines". Retrieved 9 May 2009.  
  12. ^ "The invitro assessment of antibacterial effect of papaya seed extract against bacterial pathogens isolated from urine, wound and stool.". Retrieved 14 October 2009.  
  13. ^ "Nephroprotective activities of the aqueous seed extract of Carica papaya Linn. in carbon tetrachloride induced renal injured Wistar rats: a dose- and time-dependent study". Retrieved 19 November 2009.  

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de

See also papaya



Papaya f. (genitive Papaya, plural Papayas)

  1. papaya, Carica papaya (fruit)

Simple English

File:Carica papaya - papaya - var-tropical dwarf papaya -
Papaya trunk with immature fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Brassicales
Family: Caricaceae
Genus: Carica
Species: C. papaya
Binomial name
Carica papaya

Papaya is a tall herbaceous plant in the genus Carica; its edible fruit is also called papaya. It is native to the tropical region of America, mainly from southern Mexico to Central America. Now these plants are grown in all tropical regions of the world.[1]

Papayas are plants of tropical regions and, for growth and fruit production, they need a warm climate. They cannot live with low temperatures.[2]



The genus 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 comes from the Taíno word papáia that was changed in Spanish to papaya, the word most used worldwide, with some changes. In Australia and some countries of the Caribbean, the fruit is called papaw or pawpaw but another North American plant, Asimina triloba of the Annonaceae family has also that name.

The French name for the fruit is papaye and papayer for the plant. In Portuguese, the fruit is called mamão, papaia or ababaia and the tree mamoeiro or papaeira.

In Spanish, there are other names besides papaya. In Cuba, it is called fruta bomba except in the eastern provinces where papaya is used. In the Dominican Republic, Los Llanos (Venezuela) and Eastern Central Colombia, the name is lechosa. In Argentina and Paraguay, the fruit is called mamón.[1]

Other names and translations can be seen at Wiktionary.

The plant

It is a large plant, like a tree, without branches; it is a herbaceous plant because the stem does not have much wood and remains soft and green until its death. The single stem grows from 5 to 10 m tall with all the leaves on the top. The leaves are large, 50–70 cm wide.

Some plants have perfect (with female and male organs) flowers but other plants have flowers with only one sex (female or male).

Generally, the fruit is oval to nearly round and, in some cases, like a big pear. Fruits are 15-50 cm long and 10–20 cm wide, and weigh up to 9 kg.[1]

The skin of the fruit is thin and tough; it is not eaten because is too bitter. First, the skin is green but it changes to yellow in ripe fruits, ready to be eaten. In a ripe fruit, the pulp is yellow, orange, pink, and even light red. Inside the fruit, there are many small black seeds.


Ripe papayas are eaten fresh, after taking out the skin and the seeds; sometimes, they are cut in small pieces and mixed with other fruits for a fruit salad. Papayas that are not completely ripe can be cut in pieces and cook with sugar and eaten as dessert.[1] In tropical regions, it is very popular the juice of papaya, after taking the skin and seeds; this juice can be mixed with milk to make smoothies.

Green papayas, those that are not ripe, are eaten in some Asiatic countries in salads, curries and soups but they should be boiled before eaten them. Young leaves and stems are also cooked as a vegetable.[3] Green papaya is used in Thai cuisine, both raw and cooked.[4]

The papaya is a source of iron and calcium; a good source of vitamins A, B and Riboflavin and an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid).[1]

The latex (a sap like milk) from the green fruits, the leaves and the stem are rich in an enzyme called papain, a protease that breaks down tough meat fibers. Papain is a component in products (meat tenderizers) sold in shops and that is used to make meat more soft before cooking it.


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