homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Carica papaya - L.
Common Name Papaya, Mamo, Melon Tree
Family Caricaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards Older leaves contain the alkaloid carpaine[ 298 ].
Habitats Not known as a truly wild plant
Range The original habitat is believed to be Central America and southern Mexico, but is not known for certain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun

Papaya or Carica papaya otherwise known as Mam?o or Melon Tree is one of the most popular trees cultivated for its tropical fruits. It grows up to 10 m tall with a non-woody, hollow bole of up to 30 cm in diameter. The fruit is consumed raw or cooked. It can be eaten fresh when ripe or as vegetable (immature fruits), processed, preserved, or dried. The seeds are used as spice; the male flowers and young leaves are also edible when cooked. Papaya is also valued for its medicinal uses. It is a source of the enzyme papain which is a digestive stimulant, and can be used in wounds. The fruit is used to treat diabetes, hypertension, warts, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, and painful womb. The leaves are applied externally to wounds to aid in the healing process. It is cooked and used against malaria, irregular bowel movement in children, and threadworms and roundworms. Latex obtained from the trunk is used in wounds as well, and in gums to relieve toothache. Young leaves are used as mulch.

Carica papaya Papaya, Mamo, Melon Tree

Carica papaya Papaya, Mamo, Melon Tree
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of cone
Carica papaya is an evergreen Tree growing to 8 m (26ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. and are pollinated by Bees, Moths, Wind.The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

Carica bourgeaui Solms Carica citriformis J.Jacq. ex Spreng. Carica citriformis Jacq. Carica cubensi

Edible Uses
Edible portion: Fruit, Flowers, Leaves, Vegetable, Seeds ? spice. Fruit - raw or cooked. The vitamin-rich fruit has a firm, creamy texture and a delightful flavour reminiscent of melon and apricot[ 200 ]. Delicious raw[ 301 , K ], it is a very versatile fruit and can also be preserved, dried, cooked in pies, made into jam, ice cream, jellies, sherbets etc[ 301 ]. The immature green fruit can be eaten as a vegetable, either boiled, baked, made into chutneys, jams or added to vegetable soups etc[ 296 , 301 ]. Seeds - used as a spice, especially in salad dressings[ 296 , 301 ]. A pungent, mustard and cress-like flavour[ 238 ]. Male flowers - cooked and used as a green vegetable[ 296 ]. A bitter flavour, it is probably best to change the water at least once during the cooking[ 296 ]. Very young leaves - cooked[ 298 , 418 ]. A strong bitter flavour[ 298 ]. Some caution is advised since older leaves contain alkaloids[ 298 ].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The skin of the unripe fruit, the leaves, sap and seeds of the papaya are all a source of the enzyme papain, a digestive stimulant that facilitates the digestion of protein[ 200 , 238 ]. The unripe fruit is an especially good source[ 254 ]. Papain can be used internally, especially in the form of the extracted enzyme, to treat digestive disorders[ 238 ]. It is also applied externally to aid the healing of deep or slow-healing wounds[ 238 ]. An infusion of the young, latex-filled, green fruit is used as a children's vermifuge[ 348 ]. The juice of the fruit is used to treat diabetes and hypertension[ 348 ]. The immature fruit, sometimes combined with aspirin, is used as an abortifacient[ 348 ]. The fruit pulp is mixed with fat in a pomade to remedy abscesses[ 348 ]; The juice of the fruit is used to dissolve warts[ 348 ]. The leaves and the fruit, especially the unripe fruit, are taken internally in the treatment of a range of digestive disorders, diarrhoea, high blood pressure and painful womb[ 254 , 348 ]. The green leaves are cooked as a treatment for tertiary malaria and for irregular bowel movement in children[ 348 ]. Externally, the leaves are applied to wounds as a dressing that helps to speed the healing process[ 254 ]. The leaves and seeds are used locally to rid the body of threadworms and roundworms[ 238 ]. The seeds are used as a gentle purgative to rid the body of worms[ 254 ]. Immature seeds are swallowed to treat diarrhoea[ 311 ]. The seed is eaten as a children's vermifuge, and also to increase visual acuity[ 348 ]. The latex from the trunk of the tree has a strong purgative action when taken internally and is sometimes used to rid the body of worms[ 254 ]. The latex is applied externally to wounds, boils, ulcers, warts and cancerous tumours in order to speed their healing[ 254 ]. It is also applied to the gums to treat toothache[ 348 ]. The ripe fruit is a mild laxative[ 254 ]. A decoction of the ripe fruit is used to treat persistent diarrhoea and dysentery in children[ 254 ]. An infusion of the flowers is drunk in order to induce menstruation, and also to treat laryngitis, bronchitis and venereal diseases[ 254 , 348 ]. The flowers are used in combination with milk and butter as an appetite stimulant[ 348 ]. The bark is used to treat diarrhoea[ 348 ]. The inner bark is used to treat toothache[ 311 ]. The root is aphrodisiac, astringent and vermifuge[ 348 ]. The macerated root is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[ 348 ]. An infusion of the root in alcohol is used to treat bladder and kidney problems[ 348 ]. A decoction is drunk to treat abdominal stricture, diarrhoea, malaria and intestinal worms[ 348 ]. Applied externally, an infusion of the root in alcohol is rubbed on the limbs to treat rickets[ 348 ]. A decoction of the root is used externally to treat abdominal stricture[ 348 ]. The latex contains the protein-degrading (proteolytic) and mucolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain[ 348 ]. The plant contains hydrocyanic acid, carpaine, terpene hydrocarbons, terpene alcohols, cyanogenic glycosides[ 348 ].
Other Uses
Other uses rating: Medium (3/5). Agroforestry Uses: Young leaves are used as mulch[ 418 ]. Other Uses The dried leaves can be beaten in water to form a soap substitute[ 298 ]. Papain, found in its greatest concentration in the latex in the skin of unripe fruits, has a multitude of uses. It is added to cosmetic skin creams, termite control, used in clarifying beer, degumming natural silk etc[ 200 , 418 ]. A fibre obtained from the plant can be up to 150cm long, but it is of questionable utility[ 454 ]. The whitish or pale yellow wood is very soft, very lightweight, and fleshy. There is a large white pith, and the centre of the trunk is hollow except at nodes. The wood is not used[ 447 ].
Cultivation details
Papaya succeeds in tropical and subtropical areas, where it can be found between 32?N and S. It produces best at elevations below 900 metres, though it can also succeed as high as 2,100 metres near the equator[ 335 , 418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 30?c, but can tolerate 12 - 44?c[ 418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of -1?c or lower[ 418 ]. It prefers a climate with well distributed rainfall and a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 2,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000mm[ 200 , 335 , 418 ]. Low temperatures cause smaller fruit size and low quality. Prefers a sunny position in a deep, humus- rich soil[ 296 ]. Requires a well-drained, well-aerated soil, trees can die within a few days if the soil becomes waterlogged[ 200 ]. Grows best in a position sheltered from strong winds[ 200 ]. Plants produce masses of easily damaged feeding roots near the surface and so are best hand weeded when young and given a good organic mulch as they grow[ 200 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 8[ 418 ]. A very productive plant, it can start to crop when only 6 months old and can produce fruit all year round[ 296 ]. Yields of between 22 - 56 tonnes/ha of fresh fruit are obtained in Hawaii and yields up to 80 tones/ha have been reported. The yields are highest in the second and third year and they then decline rapidly[ 418 ]. The productive life of a tree is very short, yields have declined sharply by the time it is four years old[ 418 ]. There are many named varieties[ 46 , 200 , 296 ]. Individual plants can bear only male flowers, only female flowers or hermaphrodite flowers. One male plant will be enough to fertilize 6 or more females[ 296 ]. Hand pollinated fruits ripen after about 150 - 240 days[ 418 ].
Seed - best sown as soon as ripe in a position in indirect light. Germination takes 2 - 6 weeks at 24 - 30?c[ 200 ]. Move to a sunny position about 2 weeks after germination. Greenwood cuttings. Grafting.

Books by Plants For A Future

Other Names
Papaya or Carica papaya otherwise known as Mam‹o or Melon Tree. Other Names: Ai-dila, Alola, Amapaapali, Babaya, Babbaay, Boppayi, Chipapayi, Delolo, Du du, 'Esu, Gaslabu, Keinabbu, Kepaya, Ketela, Ma-la-ko, Malagoh, Malaka, Mamao, Manioko, Mbabayu, Maoli uto, Mewa, Mpapai, Mulola, Oleti, Ololo, Papaali, Papaeira, Papaia, Papeeta, Papita, Pappaiya, Pappali, Parangi-mara, Pepaya, Pepol, Pai-pai, Te mwemweara, Weleti.
Found In
Found In: Afghanistan, Africa, Andamans, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America*, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo DR, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, C™te d'Ivoire, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, FSM, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, GuinŽe, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Lesser Antilles, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Marshall islands, Martinique, Mexico, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South America*, South Sudan, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tokelau, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, USA, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, West Africa, West Indies, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

May be a noxious weed or invasive
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed
Related Plants
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Due to a fault in the PDF printer we are trying a few different options. Please try the one below


Print Friendly and PDF
Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
Readers comment
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Carica papaya  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design

Twiter      Facebook


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email ePost. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.