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Papaw, Pawpay, Melon pawpaw, Tree melon, Lechosa

Caricaceae, Carica papaya L.

Source: Magness et al. 1971

papaya The tropical tree is nearly herbaceous, apparently native to tropical America, with a large stem hollow between the nodes. The trunk may persist for several years, but best fruit production is on plants not over four years of age. Leaves are very large and compound. Fruits are borne along the new growth of the largely unbranched trunk or main stem. Plants are grown from seed and will mature the first fruits in a year to 18 months after planting. New flowers and fruits are produced continuously, so fruits in all stages of development will be on the plant at one time. Fruits are very large, averaging 3 pounds in some kinds up to 15 or 20 pounds. Fruit rind is thin, smooth, and rather tender. The pulp is smooth textured and mild flavored. At the center is a cavity, along the walls of which the numerous seeds the size of small peas are borne. This species is the source of the enzyme papain, obtained by wounding small fruits, and widely used as a meat tenderizer.

Season, bloom to maturity: 5 to 8 months.

Production in U.S.: Hawaii produced 11,775 tons from 830 acres in 1968.

Use: Fresh eating, juice, green fruits culinary.

Part of fruit consumed: Pulp only, except rind also in cooked green fruits.

Last update February 18, 1999 by ch