Papaya is a short-lived perennial growing to 30 ft (9.14 m) high. Its hollow, herbaceous stem is usually unbranched. The deeply lobed, palmate leaves are borne on long, hollow petioles emerging from the stem apex. Flowers occur in leaf axils. Older leaves die and fall as the tree grows.
Papaya flowers are fragrant and have five cream-white to yellow-orange petals 1 to 2 in (2.5 to 5.1 cm) long. The stigmatic surfaces are pale green, and the stamens are bright yellow.
Papaya fruits are smooth skinned. They vary widely in size and shape, depending on variety and type of plant. Hermaphrodite plants of commercial ‘Solo’ varieties in Hawaii usually produce fruits that are pear shaped and weigh approximately 12 to 30 oz (340 to 851 g). Female plants of ‘Solo’ varieties produce round fruits. Other papaya varieties produce variously shaped fruits, which may weigh up to 20 lb (9.1 kg). The fruits usually contain many seeds surrounded by a smooth yellow to orange-red flesh that is sweet in good varieties.
Flower type. Flower type is determined by the presence or absence of functional stamens (male parts) and stigma and ovary (female parts). Within varieties, flower type is usually identified by flower size and shape.
Female flowers are relatively large and rounded at the base. They have a stigma but lack stamens. They generally must receive pollen in order to set fruit. Pollen can be carried by wind or by insects.
Male flowers are thin and tubular. They have perfect structure (i.e., they contain both male and female organs), but the small, vestigial ovary is nonfunctional. Male flowers are usually borne on a long flower stalk (peduncle).
Hermaphrodite flowers are intermediate between female and male flowers in size and shape. They are less bulbous than female flowers, but not as thin as male flowers. They have perfect structure with functional stigma and stamens and usually are self-pollinating.
Plant type. Three types of plants are recognized based on flower type: female, hermaphrodite, and male.
Female plants always produce female flowers. If no male or hermaphrodite plants are nearby to provide pollen, female plants usually fail to set fruit. Unpollinated female plants occasionally set parthenocarpic fruits, lacking seeds.
Male plants are distinguished by their long flower stalks bearing many flowers. Usually they do not produce fruit, but on rare occasions there is female expression in the flowers, and they may set fruits .
Health benefits of Papaya
1. Lowers cholesterol
Papaya is rich in fibre, Vitamin C and antioxidants which prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries. Too much cholesterol build-up can lead to several heart diseases including heart attack and hypertension.
2. Helps in weight loss
Those looking to lose weight must include papaya in their diet as it is very low in calories. The fibre content in papaya leaves you feeling full and also clears your bowel movement making your weight loss regime easier.
3. Boosts your immunity
Your immunity system acts as a shield against various infections that can make you really sick. A single papaya contains more than 200% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, making it great for your immunity.
4. Good for diabetics
Papaya is an excellent food option for diabetics as it has a low-sugar content even though it is sweet to taste. Also, people who don’t have diabetes can eat papaya to prevent it from happening.
5. Great for your eyes
Papaya is rich in Vitamin A which helps protect your vision from degenerating. Nobody wants to lose their ability to see due to diseases like age-related macular degeneration, and eating papayas will ensure that you do not see a day where you cannot see.
6. Protects against arthritis
Arthritis can be a really debilitating disease and people who have it may find their quality of life reduced significantly. Eating papayas are good for your bones as they have anti-inflammatory properties along with Vitamin C which helps in keeping various forms of arthritis at bay. A study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases showed that people who consumed foods low in Vitamin C were three times more likely to have arthritis than those who didn’t.
7. Improves digestion
In today’s times, it is near impossible to avoid eating foods that are bad for your digestive system. Often we find ourselves eating junk food or restaurant food prepared in excessive quantities of oil. Eating a papaya daily can make up for such occasional mistakes, as it has a digestive enzyme known as papain along with fibre which helps improve your digestive health.
8. Helps ease menstrual pain
Women who are experiencing menstrual pain should help themselves to several servings of papaya, as an enzyme called papain helps in regulating and easing flow during menstrual periods.
9. Prevents signs of ageing
All of us would love to stay young forever, but no one in this world has managed to do it. Still, healthy habits like eating a papaya daily will prolong the process and may make you look 5 years younger than you are. Papaya is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and antioxidants like beta-carotene which helps prevent your skin from free radical damage keeping wrinkles and other signs of ageing at bay.
10. Prevents cancer
Papaya is a rich source of antioxidants, phytonutrients and flavonoids that prevent your cells from undergoing free radical damage. Some studies have also linked the consumption papaya to reduced risk of colon and prostate cancer.
11. Helps reduce stress
After working hard for the whole day, it is a good idea to come home to a plate a papayas. The wonder fruit is rich in several nutrients like Vitamin C which can keep you free from stress. According to a study conducted in University of Alabama, found that 200 mg of Vitamin C can help regulate the flow of stress hormones in rats.
is an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids) and vitamin C. It is a very good source of folate. In addition, it is a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper and vitamin K.