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The papaya is the Carica papaya plant, one of the 22 recognised species in the Carica genus of the Caricaceae family. It is thought to have originated in the tropics of the Americas, either in Central America or southern Mexico.
The papaya tree is a tiny, sparsely branching tree with spirally arranged leaves limited to the top of the trunk, generally with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 m (16 to 33 ft) tall. Where leaves and fruit were borne, the lower stem is visibly damaged. The leaves are huge, measuring 50″70 cm (20″28 in) in diameter and have seven lobes. Latex is found in all regions of the plant in articulated laticifers. Papayas have two sexes. The flowers are five-parted and extremely dimorphic, with the stamens fused to the petals on the male blooms. A superior ovary and five twisted petals loosely linked at the base distinguish female flowers. 235 Male and female flowers are produced in the leaf axils, with male flowers having multiflowered dichasia and female flowers having few flowers. The pollen grains are large and elongated, measuring around 35 microns in length. The blooms have a lovely aroma, open at night, and are fertilized by wind or insects.
The fruit is a huge berry with a spherical or cylindrical shape with a length of 15″45 cm (5.9″17.7 in) and a diameter of 10″30 cm (3.9″11.8 in). It is ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or softer), its skin has turned amber to orange, and many black seeds are adhered to the walls of the huge central chamber.
There are three types of papaya plants: male, female, and hermaphrodite. Only pollen is produced by the male, while no fruit is produced by the female. Unless pollinated, the female produces tiny, inedible fruits. Because its blooms include both male stamens and female ovaries, the hermaphrodite may self-pollinate. Hermaphrodite papayas are found in almost all commercial papaya orchards.
The papaya is a tropical fruit that originated in southern Mexico (especially Chiapas and Veracruz), Central America, and northern South America. It is currently grown in almost every tropical country. It grows quickly in cultivation, bearing fruit in three years. However, because it is frost-sensitive, it can only be grown in tropical climes. Temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius (29 degrees Fahrenheit) are extremely dangerous, if not lethal. Growth is typically restricted to the southern portions of Florida, California, and Texas. Standing water will kill the plant in as little as 24 hours, therefore it loves sandy, well-drained soil.
There are two types of papayas that are regularly produced. The delicious, red or orange flesh of one is termed “red papaya,” while the yellow flesh of the other is called “yellow papaw” in Australia. A “green papaya” is any type of papaya that is plucked green.
The large-fruited, red-fleshed papayas known as ‘Maradol,’ ‘Sunrise,’ and ‘Caribbean Red,’ which are frequently marketed in U.S. markets, are cultivated in Mexico and Belize.
In 2011, researchers in the Philippines announced that they have generated papaya resistant to the papaya ringspot virus by crossing it with Vasconcellea quercifolia (PRV).
The genome of Carica papaya was the first transgenic fruit tree to be sequenced. In response to a papaya ringspot virus epidemic in Hawaii in 1998, genetically modified papaya (including the ‘SunUp’ and ‘Rainbow’ types) were licensed and introduced to market. Some PRV DNA has been integrated into the DNA of plant varieties that are resistant to the virus. Eighty percent of Hawaiian papaya plants had been genetically engineered as of 2010. Scientists from the University of Hawaii made the changes, and farmers were given the modified seeds for free.