Papaya Tree: Characteristics, varieties, uses and, Propagation

Grown in the tropical and subtropical regions around the world, the papaya tree(Carica papaya) is one plant you don’t want to miss in your garden. If you’re a gardener in zones 9 and 10, learning more about the papaya tree, including its characteristics, varieties, uses, propagation, and pollination, will be helpful.

Papaya, which is native to Central America and Northern Mexico, produces fruits loved by most households around the globe. Keep reading to learn more about this plant.

Characteristics of Papaya Tree

The papaya tree (Carica papaya) has a palm-like straight trunk that grows up to 26 feet(8m ). However, the trunk is branchless as it develops branches at the top with leaf stalks that are 2 feet (60cm) long. The tree has lobed leaves, which grow between 20-60 cm in diameter.

This perennial plant grows quickly, and with optimum conditions, it can start to produce fruits within the first 6 to 9 months after planting. 

Furthermore, the plant produces fruits that are normally round or oval in shape. However, the fruits hang directly from the trunk and are normally 3 to 20 inches long. The fruits have a sweet tropical flavor when ripe and are either orange or yellow, depending on the variety.

Normally, the plant is dioecious, with male and female flowers in separate plants, meaning a single plant will produce either male flowers (stamen), which provide pollen or female flowers (pistil), which develop into fruits after being pollinated. 

However, some are monoecious, with both male and female flowers on the same plant, meaning they can self-pollinate or get pollinated by another plant of the same species.  

Male flowers are small and appear in clusters, while female flowers are large and normally develop close to the trunk. 

Varieties of Papaya Tree

Papaya scientific name


Papaya trees have numerous varieties cultivated in different parts of the world. However, these varieties differ in fruit size, color, and flavor. Let’s look at them:

1. Red Lady

Red Lady is a popular hybrid variety. It produces large-sized fruits that are red-orange on the inside, have red flesh, and have smooth, thin skin. 

2. Maradol

In addition to the red lady, there is Maradol. This variety is mainly grown in tropical areas, specifically Mexico and Central America. They produce large-sized fruits with red-orange flesh and green skin.

3. Solo (Hawaiian solo)

If you have a small garden or a limited space, this is the variety to go with. It is small in size and has yellow-orange flesh with thin, smooth skin. They have a sweet tropical flavor and are thus commonly used in desserts and fresh juice salads.

4. Sunrise (Sunrise Solo)

Sunrise papaya is very similar to Solo papaya with a compact size and small-sized fruits with yellow-orange flesh and thin skin. They are sweet with aromatic flavor and usually used in smoothies and juices.

5. Tainung Papaya

Tainung varieties come in No. 1 and No. 2 and produce medium to large-sized fruits that are either red or pink when ripe with thick green skin. Due to their high yield potential and disease resistance, they are popular among commercial growers. 

6. Waimanalo papaya

Waimanalo papaya is a dwarf variety grown in Hawaii that produces small to medium-sized fruits with orange flesh. Due to their small size, they are ideal for home gardens or small spaces. 

7. Kapoho Papaya

Kapoho papaya is grown in Hawaii and produces small to medium-sized fruits with yellow-orange flesh. This variety is loved for its high quality and taste. 

8. Hortus Gold Papaya

Lastly, we have Hortus Gold Papaya, which is grown in areas with subtropical climates like South Africa. The fruits are medium-sized and have yellow-orange flesh.  

Uses of Papaya Tree

Papaya origin


The first product of the papaya tree is the fruit, which is rich in vitamins A, C, and E. The fruit is either eaten raw, or used in products like fresh juice, jam, ice cream, or desserts. 

Additionally, the papaya tree produces papain, a milky latex extracted from unripe papayas. The milky latex is dried into powder form and used in meat tenderisers, skin wounds, brewing, digestive enzyme supplements, and cosmetics, among other products. 


Propagation in papaya trees is commonly done by extracting seeds from ripe fruits, which are then planted directly into the soil or containers. It’s important to plant several seeds together, as they are dioecious, to ensure successful germination. 

With optimum conditions like full sun and well-draining soils, seedlings can emerge after 2 to 4 weeks.


papaya uses


In papaya, trees, pollination is typically done by insects like bees. The flowers are either male or female where cross-pollination occurs to produce fruits. 

Some papaya varieties like Solo and Sunrise self-pollinate and thus don’t need pollinators. However, having multiple plants nearby can help increase pollination and fruit yield.

In areas where pollinators are scarce, gardeners use hand pollination to transfer pollen from male flowers to female flowers by gently shaking the flowers or simply using a brush. 

Final Thoughts

Papaya trees are a fantastic addition to any garden, especially if you are looking to add a tropical flair. Whether you choose to grow the dwarf variety like Waimanalo or hardy and productive like Tainung, growing these delicious and nutrient-dense fruits is worthwhile. 


Author Profile

🌿 Hello! I'm Mary, the nature-loving soul behind Serene Eden. Gardener, plant whisperer, compost connoisseur, sun-soaked plant enthusiast, and avid bee-watcher. Let's cultivate beauty, one bloom at a time. 🌱🌼