Etymology: from the Spanish papaya, probably from a Caribbean word discovered by the Spaniards. Appeared in 1579 as "papai" and attested in its present form in 1664. The Spanish and Portuguese introduced the papaya in the Philippines, India and parts of Africa.
Origin: Southern Mexico.
Habitat: humid tropics and sub-humid.
Maximum size: 7 m tall.
Shape: crown in ball.
Bark greenish or grayish, marked of leaf scars.
Evergreen foliage. Large leaves (subcircular perimeter of 50 cm diameter) gathered at the top of the trunk. The leaf blade is lobed, ie both as flippers cut themselves deeply lobed.
Flowers appear throughout the year. The male flowers have a white corolla tube 10-25 mm and narrow lobes spread creamy-white and 10 stamens, 5 long and 5 short. The female flowers have 5 petals almost free of 5 cm, convoluted, narrow, early deciduous and a pale yellow pistil 2-3 cm. The male and female flowers are borne on separate feet (dioecious), but some are hermaphroditic feet.
Fruit in clusters attached to the trunk. The fruit, papaya is a berry 15-40 x 7-25 cm, orange pulp, compact, high-fiber fetid odor, and blackish seeds. The seeds have a slightly peppery flavor.
Use: its fruit, papaya contains the enzyme papain, which makes easier the digestion of meat.