Home Flora of Panama (WFO)
Name Search
Markup OCR Documents
Carica papaya L. Search in The Plant ListSearch in IPNISearch in Australian Plant Name IndexSearch in NYBG Virtual HerbariumSearch in Muséum national d'Histoire naturelleSearch in Type Specimen Register of the U.S. National HerbariumSearch in Virtual Herbaria AustriaSearch in JSTOR Plant ScienceSearch in SEINetSearch in African Plants Database at Geneva Botanical GardenAfrican Plants, Senckenberg Photo GallerySearch in Flora do Brasil 2020Search in Reflora - Virtual HerbariumSearch in Living Collections Decrease font Increase font Restore font

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 11/29/2012)

Flora Data (Last Modified On 11/29/2012)
PlaceOfPublication Sp. P1. ed. 1. 1466. 1753.
Synonym Papaya sativa Tussac, FI. Ant. 3:45. p1. I-II. 1824. Carica Mamaja Vell. Fl. Flum. 10: p1. I3I. 1827. Papaya vulgaris A. DC. in DC. Prodr. 151:414. 1864. Carica hermaphrodite Blanco, Fl. Filip. 3:212. 1879.
Description Dioecious or occasionally polygamous or monoecious trees 2-8 m. tall with characteristic stout succulent and unbranched trunks, usually glabrous in all parts or essentially so. Leaves in a dense terminal crown, long-petiolate; blade simple but palmately divided into usually 7 more or less irregularly and broadly pinnatifid segments, variable in size but frequently up to 4-5 dm. in diameter; petiole usually up to 5-7 dm. long. Staminate inflorescences repeatedly compound, many-flowered, somewhat shorter than the subtending petioles, spreading or pendulous, the pistillate far shorter than the subtending petioles, usually only 1- to 3-flowered. Staminate flowers: calyx lobes very broadly deltoid, obtuse, about 1 mm. long; corolla salver- form white or yellow, the tube about 1.5-2.0 cm. long, about 2 mm. in diameter, the lobes oblong, 1.0-1.5 cm. long, slightly spreading; stamens inserted at the orifice of the corolla tube, exserted, the antepetalous anthers about 2.5 mm. long, nearly sessile and descending basally into the corolla tube, the antesepalous anthers erect, wholly exserted, about 2 mm. long, with apically 2-lobed filaments of nearly equal length; pistillode acicular, about 1 cm. long. Pistillate flowers far larger than the staminate, irregularly campanulate, white or pale cream: calyx lobes broadly deltoid, about 1 mm. long; corolla essentially polypetalous or very weakly united, the segments about 5-7 cm. long, 1.5-2.0 cm. broad, broadly acute, irregu- larly reflexed toward the tips; staminodia lacking, rarely minute and hypogynous; ovary ovoid-ellipsoid, usually about 3 cm. long (including the indefinitely attenuate style) and 2 cm. broad, the stigma essentially sessile, of 5 thick segments about 1 cm. long fimbriately di- or trichotomous toward the tip. Berry extremely variable, up to 3 dm. long and 2 dm. thick, green or yellow when ripe.
Habit tree
Distribution Papayos are grown throughout the tropics of the world, chiefly at low eleva- tions, and tend to become escapes everywhere. In Panama they are one of the commonest weed trees, and the quality of their fruits varies from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Note Some of the most inferior produce fruits scarcely larger than a hen's egg. The vast man-made distribution of Carica Papaya is quite at variance with the very restricted natural ranges of the other published species of the genus, and even the approximate site of the progenitors of the cultivated papaya is now impossible to ascertain: it may well be the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes where most of the wild species with similar leaf forms occur today. Under such circumstances the citation of herbarium specimens is apt to become somewhat absurd, but is appended to this account for good measure. Associated with the latex of all parts of the plant are various proteolytic en- zymes, particularly papain, which are isolated and used for various pharmaceutical and gastronomic purposes. In Panama leaves of papayo sometimes are cooked with tough meat, or the raw meat softened by wrapping in green leaves and left over- night. Hernando Cortes is said to have observed this use of papayo during his conquest of Mexico in the early eighteenth century, and from this source has developed the recently booming process of meat tenderizing, in which papain is a prominent agent. Carica papaya normally is dioecious. In some districts of Panama the inhabi- tants adhere to a "superstition" that barren (i.e. staminate) trees of papayo can be made fruitful by deeply inscribing in the bark the Sign of the Cross with a machete. I have been shown examples of such incised trees, which do indeed appear to become polygamous. Local experience also has it that such a tree does not become fruitful permanently but must be wounded periodically. The response would appear to have scientific foundation upon the basis of traumatic reversion.
Specimen BOCAS DEL TORO: Careening Cay, Von Wedel 573. CANAL ZONE: Barro Colorado Island, Shattuck i65; low ground, outskirts of Ancon, Greenman & Greenman 5073; Cocoli Island, vicinity of Miraflores Lake, P. White 290.
© 2019 Missouri Botanical Garden - 4344 Shaw Boulevard - Saint Louis, Missouri 63110