Papaya tree, Carica papaya
Papaya tree, Carica papaya are well known in my garden. Multiple trees appeared out of nowhere a few years ago. I finally realized there must have been seeds scattered in the multiple truck loads of mulch I brought home thanks to a local city program. As they grew tall and produced fruit, I enjoyed the fruits until I could no longer reach them. The raccoons had no problem taking over for me. They grow to around 8 to 20 feet, sometimes higher, with a very straight fibrous trunk, occasionally with additional side branching. At the top are a cluster of deeply lobed leaves under which the large fruits are found. The above mentioned type is from Hawaii and is the one most commonly found in stores, but there two others. C. pubescens from Mexico and C. pentagona.
The Hawaiian papaya are pear shaped about 6 inches in length, with yellow skin and orange flesh with a sweet pleasant flavor. They were brought to Hawaii from their native Central America around 1911. Large plantations have since been formed. This tree is very fast growing and can produce fruit in the first year. They are only hardy in frost free areas. I lost mine in the recent winter freeze, but I'm hoping to see replacements from seeds, even if I have to buy them. It's a great addition to any tropical garden.
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