2- Characteristics of the Species Carica papaya - Papaya, Papaw, Pawpaw
2.1- Description + The plant The Papaya is a large, tree-like plant, with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 m (16 to 33 ft) tall, with spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk. The tree is usually unbranched, unless lopped. The lower trunk is conspicuously scarred where leaves and fruit were borne. Unusually for such large plants, the trees are dioecious. Commonly and erroneously referred to as a "tree", the plant is properly a large herb growing at the rate of 1.8-3 m (6 to 10 ft) the first year and reaching 6-9 m (20 or even 30 ft) in height, with a hollow green or deep-purple stem becoming 30-40 cm (12 to 16 in) or more thick at the base and roughened by leaf scars. The main stem is slender, upright, and marked with conspicuous leaf base scars. The stems on young plants are green and dark purple, while those of older plants are brown and woody. The foliage and the unripe fruits will ooze milky white latex if cut. The plants are grown from seed and are very fast-growing.
+ The leaves The leaves emerge directly from the upper part of the stem in a spiral on nearly horizontal petioles 30-105 cm (1 to 3 1/2 ft) long, hollow, succulent, green or more or less dark purple. The blade, deeply divided into 5 to 9 main segments, each irregularly subdivided, varies from 30-60 cm (1 to 2 ft) in width and has prominent yellowish ribs and veins. The life of a leaf is 4 to 6 months. Both the stem and leaves contain copious white milky latex. The leaves are large, 50-70 cm (20-28 in) in diameter, deeply palmately lobed, with seven lobes. + The flowers The plants are sexually variable and can be dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant), or hermaphroditic (having bisexual or "perfect" flowers). The flowers emerge from the leaf axils and have 5 white, fleshy, waxy lobes. The 5-petalled flowers are fleshy, waxy and slightly fragrant. Some plants bear only short-stalked pistillate (female) flowers, waxy and ivory-white; or hermaprodite (perfect) flowers (having female and male organs), ivory-white with bright-yellow anthers and borne on short stalks; while others may bear only staminate (male) flowers, clustered on panicles to 1.5-1.8 m (5 or 6 ft) long. There may even be monoecious plants having both male and female flowers. Some plants at certain seasons produce short-stalked male flowers, at other times perfect flowers. This change of sex may occur temporarily during high temperatures in midsummer. Some "all-male" plants occasionally bear, at the tip of the spray, small flowers with perfect pistils and these produce abnormally slender fruits. Male or hermaphrodite plants may change completely to female plants after being beheaded. The female and hermaphrodite flowers are followed by anywhere from 5 to 50 cm (2 to 20 inch) long, round, pear-shaped, or club-shaped, green ripening to yellow, orange, or red-tinged, melon-like fruits with yellow, orange, or salmon-colored flesh and a cavity containing a gelatinous mass of black seeds.
+ The fruits The fruits appear on the axils of the leaves, maturing into large fruit 15-50 cm (6 to 20 in) long and 10-30 cm (3.9-11.8 in) in diameter. Generally, the fruit is melon-like, oval to nearly round, somewhat pyriform, or elongated club-shaped; weighing up to 9 kg (20 lbs). Semi-wild (naturalized) plants bear miniature fruits 2.5-15 cm (1 to 6 in) long. The skin is waxy and thin but fairly tough. When the fruit is green and hard it is rich in white latex. As it ripens, it becomes light- or deep-yellow externally and the thick wall of succulent flesh becomes aromatic, yellow, orange or various shades of salmon or red. It is then juicy, sweetish and somewhat like a cantaloupe in flavor; in some types quite musky. + The seeds The black seeds of the papaya are are usually numerous small, black, ovoid, corrugated, peppery seeds about 3/16 in (5 mm) long, each coated with a transparent, gelatinous aril. They are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They are sometimes ground and used as a substitute for black pepper.
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