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published: 04 Apr 2006 last updated: 08 Aug 2014
Carica papaya is native in the north-tropical Western Hemisphere. Some have suggested a centre of origin in Central America or the south of Mexico. Manshardt and Zee (1994) found wild papayas in the Caribbean coastal lowlands of southern Mexico and northern Honduras.
Papaya, Carica papaya L., is an almost herbaceous (succulently soft-wooded), typically unbranched small tree in the family Caricaceae. Europeans first encountered papaya in the Western Hemisphere tropics by at least the early 1500s, and various interests were soon disseminating it widely. Papaya is now cultivated worldwide in tropical and subtropical climates mainly for its melon-like fruit.