PAPAYA

(Carica papaya) The papaya is a small, sparsely branched tree, usually with a single stem growing from 16 to 33 ft tall, (although there are several dwarf varieties that are much smaller), with spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk. Surprisingly there is a debate whether the papaya  is a tree or an herb. It seems to meet the expectations of both.  They fudge the difference and call it a giant herbaceous plant. The lower trunk is conspicuously scarred where leaves and fruit were borne. The leaves are large, deeply palmately lobed, with seven lobes. Unusually for such large plants, the trees are dioecious. The flowers are 5-parted and highly dimorphic, the male flowers with the stamens fused to the petals. The female flowers have a superior ovary and five contorted petals loosely connected at the base. Papaya plants grow in three sexes: male, female, hermaphrodite. The male produces only pollen, never fruit. The female will produce small, inedible fruits unless pollinated. The hermaphrodite can self-pollinate since its flowers contain both male stamens and female ovaries The fruit is a large berry about 6–15 in long and 4–12 in in diameter. It is ripe when it feels soft (as soft as a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue. If container grow, the trees will be much smaller, but still productive. Papayas grow rapidly, often fruiting within a year. It is, however, highly frost-sensitive, limiting its outdoor production to tropical climates.