The papaya, Carica papaya L., is a native of Central and South America. It is a member of the family Caricaceae.
This family consists of 55 species (Dallwitz 1980). Badillo (1971) placed these species into four genera, namely:
Carica, Cyclimorpha, Jacaratia and Jarilla. Carica is the largest genus, with 22 species (Purseglove 1968). Of these 22
species, Carica papaya is the most economically valuable, and is widely cultivated for its edible fruit. The family is
characterized by trees or shrubs that are erect, small, soft-wooded and fast-growing. Often dioecious or monoecious, they grow to a
height of 3-6 meters. The trunk is usually unbranched, and crowned with large spirally arranged leaves which give the tree a
palm-like appearance. The stem and the leaves produce a milky sap when wounded, a feature found in all members of this