From the Archives
of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia, inc.
Papaya the Medicine Tree
Scientific name: Carica papaya
Papayas are often called Paw Paw in Australia, and this sometimes causes confusion, for the Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) is an entirely different fruit, quite unlike the large fruit which we all call 'Paw Paw'.
propagated from seed, the Papaya has the distinction of being one of
the most rapidly growing of tropical plants and should be a must in
everyone's garden where climate allows it to be possible to grow.
its first year, when the tree is only between six and ten feet tall, it
bears quite a heavy crop of fruit and continues to do so for a few
years, then it dies away. Planting of new Papayas should be coming on
at different stages so as not to be without this marvellous fruit.
hundreds of years, the natives of the Caribbean regarded the Papaya as
a magic tree because of its ability to keep them healthy. They
discovered that if they rubbed meat with the juice of the fruit, or
wrapped it in Papaya leaves prior to cooking, the toughest meat became
tender. They powdered the leaves and took them as a medicine when
suffering from stomach acidity. They also found they could eat as much
meat and fish as they liked without suffering any ill effects -
provided they finished their meal with Papaya fruit.
scientific investigations into the properties of the Payaya have
confirmed a protein-digesting enzyme in the milky juice, or latex,
which is carried in a network of vessels throughout the plant. It is
reputed to be so powerful (given the name papain) that it can digest
two hundred times its own weight in protein. Its effect is to assist
the body's own enzymes in assimilating the maximum nutritional value
Also, an alkaloid called carpaine is extracted from
the leaves for use in the drug industry, and 25% of a Papaya seed is
made up of a pale non-drying oil which has not yet become
The fresh fruit is also a source of natural
sugars, Vitamins A and C. The B vitamins, niacin, riboflavin and
thiamin, are present in small quantities, and there is a fair amount of
It is good to remember that all fruit, including the
Papaya, purify the blood of its toxic substances, cleanse the tissues,
and help the body to resist disease.