Papaya

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The papaya (from Carib via Spanish), papaw or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, in the genus Carica. It is native to the tropics of the Americas, and was first cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerican classic cultures.

It is a large tree-like plant, with a single stem growing from 5 to 10 metres (16 to 33 ft) tall, with spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk. The lower trunk is conspicuously scarred where leaves and fruit were borne. The leaves are large, 50–70 centimetres (20–28 in) diameter, deeply palmately lobed with 7 lobes. The tree is usually unbranched if unlopped. The flowers are similar in shape to the flowers of the Plumeria, but are much smaller and wax-like. They appear on the axils of the leaves, maturing into the large 15–45 centimetres (5.9–18 in) long, 10–30 centimetres (3.9–12 in) diameter fruit. The fruit is ripe when it feels soft (like a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue.

It is the first fruit tree to have its genome deciphered.[1]

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Common names

In North America, the term pawpaw may also refer to the fruit of trees in the unrelated North American genus Asimina. However, pawpaw and papaw are common synonyms of papaya both in North America and elsewhere.[2][3] It is sometimes called mugua and is therefore confused with Chaenomeles speciosa or Pseudocydonia sinensis which are called mugua[citation needed] in traditional Chinese medicine.[4]

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