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Carica papaya


Carica papaya L.

Family Name: Caricaceae
Synonyms: Carica posoposa, Carica carica, Carica peltata
Common Name: Papaya, Betik, Pawpaw, Betek, Melon Tree, Ketalah, 木瓜, 番木瓜


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Umbrella
Maximum Height 2 m to 10 m


Native Distribution Central America
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Casual))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a very large herbaceous plant which grows up to 8 - 10 m tall.
Crown Umbrella-like due to the canopy of palmate-lobed leaves. 
Foliage Leaves are lobed, leaf stalks measuring up to 1 m long, alternately arranged on the stem. 
Stems Stem single, unbranched, non-woody, has scars of old leaf base.
Flowers Some papaya plants are dioecious (having male and female flowers in separate tree) while others are hermaphroditic (having both male and female flowers in one tree). Trumpet-shaped, fragrant, yellow to white, males in long raceme, females in small clusters or sometimes solitary. 
Fruit Large, fleshy, melon-like shape, hanging in clusters which are attached to the stem top just below the leaves, green when young and ripens to orange-yellow.. 
Cultivation Grown for fruit production from seeds. It is advised to wrap / bag the fruits to avoid attacks from the fruit flies.
Etymology The genus Carica means from Caria (mistakenly thought to be the origin).
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts : Edible Fruits, Edible Seeds
Food (Fruit or Vegetable): The sweet and juicy fruits are eaten or made as ingredients in jellies or preserves, or cooked as vegetables.  (Herb or Spice): The black seeds are ground and used as a substitute for black pepper due to their sharp and spicy taste.
Medicinal: The latex was said to be effective against toothache. 
Others: The enzyme extracted from young papaya's milky sap, called as papain, is used as a meat tenderizer, and in chewing gum production. Papaya is also used in shampoos and cosmetics.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General, Parks & Gardens

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird-Attracting
Seed or Spore Dispersal Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Easy to Grow, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Deciduous
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Palmate)
Foliar Venation Palmate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual & Bisexual Flowers(Sub-dioecious)
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Solitary, Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Individual Flower Shape Trumpet-shaped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Orange
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Smooth
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black
Seed Quantity Per Fruit Numerous (>20)

Image Repository



Master ID 1492
Species ID 2785
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 09 September 2022.

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