Very common in Martinique, this small tree grows there everywhere as weed, even in the poorest places.
The fact that there is nowhere in the world in the wild does not know its origin with precision. We believe, however, that he would come from Central America. It was already in our islands at the beginning of colonization, as it was described in detail by the R.P. Du Tertre
«Without no culture, most newly cleared homes produce very specific trees in their form: because they are big as the leg, tops a Pike or about like arrows and without any rights.» "These trees are hollow and have only an inch or about a so soft wood, that is easily cut any tree suddenly serpe. He continued thus: "all its leaves (which are similar to those of the fig tree in France, but twice as large) are attached from the top of the shaft up to a foot below, by tails long as the arm, big as a thumb and big like flutes. Below all these sheets, there are about 30 fruit immediately attached to the surrounding of the tree, which those who are the lowest, are larger and more mature".
As for many of our trees and our shrubs, we meet in nature, male papaya and female papaya. The two flower, but only female plants bear fruit. The male flowers are same color as female flowers. They are yellowish-white, borne on very long peduncles. The female flowers, on the other hand, wider, the shape of a small bottle, capped of a kind of fringe. It is difficult to distinguish the two trees when they are not in bloom.
A thousand virtues fruit
Bay medium-sized, papaya can reach 15 cm to 40 cm in dimension and a diameter of 7 to 25 cm. It is usually green before maturity and yellow-orange when ripe. It is a healthy fruit, refreshing, to which is attributed, in our islands, many virtues. It is particularly advisable to eat on an empty stomach in the morning. Grains, deworming, constitute an excellent treatment against intestinal worms and constipation.
Papaya contains a number of vitamins A. B and C, calcium and iron also. You can eat fresh, in the form of juice, jam also. But the papaya juice is not really part of our eating habits.
An enzyme: papain
In addition to abundant latex, the entire plant contains a Diastasis recti or enzyme, papain, which digests protein. This property is used to Tenderize the meat. It seems that simply wrap a tough in papaya leaves meat to make it tender during cooking. According to some authors, the papain would still have other uses: "it would be used in some countries in pharmacy, in preparations for the treatment of gastric or duodenal deficiencies; She is also involved in the making of quality 'gumball', but also in brewery to improve malting by treatment of barley during the mooring operation. Biological and biochemical laboratories use it for the preparation of culture media"(R. Van Laere).
Various varieties of papaya
Some papaya give generally round berries, others, on the other hand, bear big fruits, very elongated, resembling watermelon. This last variety to believe the R.P. Du Tertre, is originally from the island of St. Croix. After him, the French, driven out of the island by the British, brought the seeds in Guadeloupe, in 1645. In all likelihood, this papaya, reported from St. Croix, is of the same species as other round fruit (Carica papaya l.) and the same family. The rest is quite nearby the Passifloracées and Cucurbits.