On a recent trip to my hometown of Cebu, I helped out in harvesting papayas at the KPAF. This first papaya harvesting experience made me ask myself ‘how much do I really know about this fruit? this tree?’ So this week we look into the world of papayas in a special feature called PAWPAW Power. Pawpaw is another name for Papaya. Today, I bring you Papaya TRIVIA.
I remember my Botany teacher at STC College Cebu -Miss Esmero- telling us that if we have a papaya tree in our backyard that keeps bearing fruit then most likely we have a neighbour with a male papaya plant and we might need to give half of the harvest to that neighbour. This remains my favourite trivia about papayas… “Papaya plants occur in three sexual forms: male, female or hermaphrodite. These forms are expressed in the plant’s flower.”(Info Source)
Learn more about “Why Some Papaya Plants Fail to Fruit” by C. L. Chia and Richard M. Manshardt, Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources, University of Hawaii Manoa
- Papaya trees can grow from a seed to a fruit bearing tree in less than 18 months. Trees are often 20 feet tall, and fruits range in weight from 1 to 20 pounds!
- Due to its high content in a proteolytic enzyme called “papain”, papaya extracts are sold in a white powder, with added salt, sugar and anticaking agents, as a meat tenderizer. South American aborigens used papaya juice as a meat tenderizer for centuries.
- There are two most common varieties of papayas: the Mexican variety and the Hawaiian variety. Hawaiian papayas (also known as Solo) are usually found in supermarkets: they’re pear shaped, weighing a pound, and have a yellow skin when ripe, with the flesh being orange or pinkish. Mexican papayas can be found in supermarkets in South America and are much larger than the Hawaiian, weighing up to 20 pounds, despite being less tasty than their Hawaiian counterparts.
- Papaya seeds are edible and have a peppery, bitter flavor. They are sometimes used in salads and can even be used as a substitute for black pepper.
- Papayas have been used for centuries by native indians as a remedy for indigestion and digestive problems: its content in papain seems to reduce the symptoms of inflammation and speed up the recovery
- Papaya leaves are very large, often being 50-70 cm diameter, and have seven lobes
- Papayas were the first fruit to have their genome deciphered, and were the first genetically modified fruit for human consumption (they were enhanced in 1998 to be immune to the ringspot virus, which threatened papaya crops)
- In India and Pakistan, green (unripe) papayas have been used for centuries as a folk remedy for abortion and contraception. These uses have been later confirmed by research, and today it is advised that pregnant women do not consume large amounts of green papayas. The ripe fruit is safe and does not cause problems.
- The leaves of the plant are steamed and eaten in Asia like spinach, while the green fruit is often used in Thai salads. Leaves are also used for tea, used in folk medicine to treat malaria (although medical research has not confirmed its protective effects)
- During the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Harrison Ford was treated for a ruptured disc incurred during filming by having papain injected into his back
Check out some more PAPAYA Food Trivia & Facts