Carica papaya


BOTANICAL NAME:- Carica papaya


SINHALA : Gas-labu, Pepol
TAMIL : Pappali
ENGLISH : Papeta, Papaya, Papaw


An erect tree, 6.9 m tall, with an unbranched, hollow, soft trunk, 10-60 cm diameter, marked with the scars of fallen leaves.

LEAVES:- Alternate, spreading together forming a terminal crown, petiolate, subpeltately palmate, lamina 30-44 cm long, deeply cut into 5-7 segments more or less lobed, petiole 58-83 cm long, hollow, shorter in the younger leaves, trunk and leaves contain a milky juice.

FLOWERS:- Regular, dioecious or polygamous, white, yellow or greenish, unisexual or a few in the inflorescence bisexual, male and polygamous inflorescences pendulous with long peduncles, female very short, male flowers 2-3.5 cm long.

FRUITS:- Large shortly stalked, ovoid, roundish, pear-shaped or ellipsoidal, 20-35 cm long, 10-15 cm diameter, pendulous (Jayaweera, 1980).


Indigenous to Tropical America and West Indies but cultivated throughout the Tropics (Purseglove, 1968; Querol, 1992). It was introduced to Sri Lanka in the second half of the 19th century. It is a common fruit tree planted in almost all village gardens in the midland low-country in Sri Lanka.

EDIBLE PARTS : The fruits.

FOOD USE: The iiped fresh fruits are eaten throughout the Tropics. They are used to produce soft drinks, jams, icecreams and fruit salads. Flavoured and crystallized fruits are caned in a syrup. Unriped fruits are cooked and eaten and also used in making pickles and in meat tendering preparation. 



Moisture - 90.8g, 
Energy - 32 Kcal, 
Proteins - 0.6 g, 
Fats - 0.1 g, 
Carbohydrates 7.2 g, 
Calcium - 17 mg, 
Phosphorus - 13 mg, 
Iron - 0.5 mg, 
Carotene - 666 meg, 
Thiamine - 40 meg, 
Riboflavin - 250 meg, 
Niacin - 0.2 mg, Vitamin C - 57 mg.
(Unriped) Moisture - 90.8 g, Energy - 32 kcal, Protein - 0.6 g, Fats - 0.1 g, Carbohydrate - 7.2 g, Calcium - 17 mg, Phosphorus - 13 mg, Iron - 0.5 mg), Carotene - 666 meg, Thiamine - 40 meg, Riboflavin - 250 meg, Niacin - 0.2 mg, 

Vitamin C 51. (Perera, et al., 1979).

Matured fruits contain a digestive enzyme papain. It is styptic, vermifuge, anthelmintic and sometimes used to cause abortion. The Caribbeans used the riped fruit as a cosmetic. There remarkable complexion of those people is attributed to the use of the pulp of the riped fruit as a skin soap. It also removes freckles. The seed is used as condiment,carminative, emmenagogue, counter-irritant and as an abortifacient. In the Philippines, the bruised papaya leaves are used for rheumatism and roots are used for yaws and piles. A decoction of the leaves is given for asthma. In East Africa, the root is used as an anthelmintic and as a remedy for syphilis and gonorrhoea. In Java, leaves, roots and barks are given for beriberi, kidney and venereal diseases respectively (Jayaweera, 1980).


Both leaves and immature fruits are used in seasoning of ola leaves. Immature fruits are tapped for latex which is used in preparing papain.


Grown well in neutral, sandy or loam soils. Atmospheric temperature of 25-30° C is suitalbe for papaya. A well distributed rainfall of 1000-1500 mm is required. Grows at altitues below 2000 m.


Generally propagated by seed from fully riped fruits. Seeds may be sown directly at final site, as 6-10 seeds are sown at each plant position and later thinned. Usually seedlings are prepared in the nursery and then transplanted. After one week, the germinated seedlings are transferred into polythene bags. Three to four weeks later, when the seedlings are 15-20 cm high, they can be moved to the field. The planting holes should be 0.5 x 0.5 m and enriched with well-rotted manure. Three seedlings should be planted per hole, 25 cm apart. Male plants, which normally produce flowers within 3 months, can then be removed to leave a high proportion of female plants.

Spacing- 2.5-3.5 m apart. In direct planting, a seed rate of about 10,000/ha is required.

Irrigation- Necessary in the dry season in most areas.

Fertilizer- Inorganic and organic.

Time to harvest- Flowering occurs in 6 months, and fruits begin to ripe after 9 months.

Harvest season-Fruits are produced throughout the year.

Harvesting- Fruits are picked when they are half ripe. Once picked, fruits ripe rapidly within 1-3 days and should be transported to the market before they become soft.


Fruits once picked, can be kept for 6-10 days under normal conditions. Unriped fruits may be pickled.