Carica papaya (Papaya)


Description: The papaya plant has an erect branchless trunk 6-20 ft (1.8-6.1 m) tall, and a palmlike head of foliage at the top. The trunk remains somewhat succulent and soft wooded, and never develops true bark. It is ringed with prominent scars from previous leaf stems and contains an acrid milky latex sap. The leaves are deeply incised and lobed, up to 24 in (61 cm) across and borne on 24 in (61 cm) petioles. The smooth-skinned fruits are green, yellow, orange or rose colored, and can weigh as much as 20 pounds (9.1 kg), but typically are about a pound (0.5 kg). They hang on short stalks in clusters directly from the trunk beneath the umbrella of giant leaves. Papayas flower and fruit simultaneously throughout the year. Normally dioecious in the wild, hermaphroditic papaya cultivars have been developed. Several variations of the Solo cultivars, or Hawaiian papaya, are the most common papayas in American grocery stores; these are monoecious cultivars, only 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) tall, which produce small, single serving fruits. Mexican papayas produce fruits weighing up to 10 lbs (4.5 kg), on much larger plants.

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