Carica papaya Seeds
Carica papaya is also called papaw or pawpaw. The plant produces several round black seeds which are enclosed in fruits. It is native to Tropical America and cultivated all over the tropical and sub-tropical countries of the world. In Pakistan, it is widely cultivated in Punjab and Sindh.
Carica papaya Overview
Carica papaya is a small herbaceous tree that contain milky juice. Its leaves are deeply divided into many lobes which are further divided into smaller lobes. It does not have branches and the crown of leaves is at the top of the trunk. The overall appearance is a bit like a palm tree. The plant is mostly dioecious but rarely monoecious in nature having fragrant nocturnal flowers. Male inflorescence is about 30-100 cm long while female inflorescence grows in clusters, sessile and about 3 cm long. The male flowers are funnel shaped and whitish in colour while female flowers are creamy yellow in colour.
The fruits are large, spherical and turn yellow or orange when fully ripe. Along the walls of the large central cavity are attached numerous wrinkled seeds. These seeds are black in colour, oval in shape, enclosed in a gelatinous membrane and about 2 mm in diameter.
Cultivation of Carica papaya
Carica papaya can be cultivated in three sexes i.e. male, female and hermaphrodite. The male plant produces only pollens but never fruits. The female plant produces fruits but these fruits are small and inedible unless pollinated. The hermaphrodite plant comprises both male and female parts and hence self-pollinated. Therefore, all commercial orchards of Carica papaya contain only hermaphrodite varieties.
Cultivars of Carica papaya
There are two cultivars of Carica papaya are commonly grown. One of the cultivar has red or orange flesh fruits, sweet in taste and are known as “red papaya”. The other cultivar has yellow flesh fruits and are known as “yellow papaya”.
Propagation of Carica papaya through seeds
Carica papaya are usually grown from seeds. The seeds are collected from the fruits and dried and clean. Then, they are sown in separate pots or containers. Under full sunlight, seedlings may emerge in about two weeks. The flowering start quite after 6-6 months. The plant developed rapidly and produces fruits before the end of the first year. It may live more than 5 years under favorable conditions.
How to take care of Carica papaya seedlings
The seedlings of Carica papaya are highly frost sensitive. It prefers tropical climates. Therefore, temperatures below -2˚C are greatly harmful to them. It prefers good amount of sunlight. The plant needs well-drained, sandy soil. It prefer watering only when the soil dries out, as standing water causes root rot and kill the plant within 24 hours. The young seedlings requires proper fertilizer after every 14 days, especially nitrogen containing fertilizer. Mulching is necessary for proper growth of plant. Young seedlings are least affected by insects or diseases. However, Carica papaya are short lived, as they become susceptible to diseases when passage of time.
Uses of Carica papaya Fruit and Seeds
The fruit of Carica papaya are eaten raw and is good for stomach and digestion. It is slightly sweet in taste with a musky tang. Its fruit is a popular breakfast fruit and widely used in salads, juices, confectionaries and pies. It is also used in tanning industries, tenderizing meat and for bating skin. Their seeds are used to quench thirst and used as vermifuge.