Carica papaya L


More than a tree, the plant is properly a large herb as its trunk is almost herbaceous. This trunk is fragile and very porous, hollow at the center, or 30 cm in diameter, with latex. It’s erect, simple and branchless, is crowned by leaves at the top. The bark is grayish and has numerous and prominent leaf scars. It grows 3-8 m in height. Leaves are alternate and very close together; dark green and thick of up to 80 cm long., palmatilobate with lobes that are, sometimes, pinnatifid and 60 cm in length. Dioecious flowers, some times monoecious (very seldom, though), are grouped at the end of the trunk. It could be found as follows: plants with female flowers; with hermaphrodite and with male flowers.

This fruit is oval or sphere-shaped, of 10-20 cm long, fleshy and globose. It’s usually shaped in 5 angles of variable size and is orange when ripe. The flesh is orange-yellow with small black seeds clustered in the center, flat and covered with a transparent, gelatinous aril, connected to the flesh by a white and fibrous tissue with a fleshy endosperm. Fruits from female plants are smooth, round, large, with plenty of seed and a pentagonal mark at the base of the fruit. Fruits that come from hermaphrodite are ellipse-shaped or elongated with grooves at the surface and a mark at the base. They are smaller and have less pulp, less amount of seeds and the flavor is less intense than those from female flowers. Male plants sometimes produce fruits, but these are not normally good for commercial use. The skin is soft and has a milky white fluid (latex) that rapidly dries at the moment of fruit maturation. Then latex gradually disappears. It belongs to the Caricaceae family.

Papaya is a tropical fruit used since ancient times for its excellent digestive properties. Papaya leaves wrapped around meat make a great tenderizer. It lives in warm, semi-warm and semi-arid weather. It grows in orchards and is associated with evergreen and semi-evergreen; perennial and sub-perennial rain forests, mountain forests of pine and oak trees. Moist and heat are essential conditions for this plant development.

Part used

The latex is obtained by making incisions on the surface of green fruits (papaya), which can also be obtained from the seeds and the plant itself. Other than latex, the enzymes extracted from the same latex (papain) and in a lower scale the fruits, leaves and seeds are used, too.


Internal use

  • Digestive disorders: dyspepsia, slow digestions, peptic ulcers, hiatal hernia or pyrosis (stomach acidity) exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (reduction of pancreatic juice secretion), gastroenteritis, infantile diarrhea, etc.
  • Intestinal parasite infection: ascariasis, enterobiasis, teniasis, toxocariasis or trichuriasis.
  • Liver, kidney and ovary inflammation.
  • Constipation.
  • Malaria.

External use

  • Burns.
  • To eliminate warts (latex).
  • Skin infections: psoriasis, eczema, abscesses, etc.
  • Buccopharyngeal mucosa disorders, post-operatory conditions and mouth lesions.
  • It also takes part in formulas to clean corneal lenses, eardrops (5% de papain, 2% sodium bicarbonate, 15 cc distilled water).
  • Insects bites and jellyfish burns (papain).


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