Papaya trees were discovered in 1541 by the Spanish explorer Hernando Desoto, on an excursion to the Mississippi Valley, and he sent samples of this plant to Europe.

William Bartram in 1776 stated in his botany book, Travels, that he found papaya trees growing on the Alatamaha River in Georgia and in eastern Florida, which he described as ‘Annona incarna’, the name was later updated by modern taxonomists . “The fruit the size of a small cucumber … containing a yellow pulp the consistency of a hard custard, and a very delicious and healthy food.”

This fruit has a pleasant taste and is considered the largest native fruit in North America. Papaya trees are said to be endangered or threatened in the states of New York and New Jersey, in the forests where it grows naturally.

The papaya tree grows throughout most of the eastern United States as a native tree. Ripe papaya trees produce 2 “wide by 10” long fruits that look and taste very much like a banana. The fruit is to most people’s liking and can be purchased at many open-air markets in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. Papaya pulp has the consistency of a creamy custard and can be eaten raw, baked, or used as a cake filling. The trees grow around 15 ‘tall and are known to produce up to 60 pounds of papayas per tree. Some individual papayas weigh up to a pound each. Zones 5-10

Recently, much interest has been directed towards the research and development of improved varieties of papaya at the universities of Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. The large fruit is not well known in much of the United States, but its exotic flavor and shape make it a candidate for the expansive potential of specialty fruit markets in the future. Try it once fresh and you will feel compelled to have some of these papaya trees growing in your personal fruit orchard.

One of the great horticultural mysteries of the world is: why most of the paw trees, which were abundant in the early forests of the USA, have practically disappeared from their natural habitat today? That answer may be within the results of research (Peterson 1991), which showed that the paw paw is sensitive to ultraviolet light, therefore paw paw seedlings may not regrow after forests have been cut down, and there are very few virgin forests left on earth. the United States. Paw-paws can be found growing there abundantly, but once the forests are well cut, the paw-leg will generally not reestablish itself.

These experiments should be clearly remembered when ordering your leg trees. They should be planted under the partial shade of other trees, however you can plant your papaya trees outdoors, if the trees are grown under shade cloth for a couple of seasons. The tree will lose its sensitivity to full sunlight once it is established and the shade cloth can be discarded.

Some gardeners want to plant their papaya trees in pots for a couple of years in shady conditions, but this is not necessary if the above guidelines are followed. Since paw-paw trees are rooted, growth will be slow for the first year, but after that, very fast growth occurs afterward.

The paw leaves are large and that large leaf area usually indicates the need for large amounts of soil moisture and therefore the paws are generally found in their greatest numbers near the floodplains of rivers. Composted leaves or other organic materials are very beneficial for the paws.

The skin on the legs is thin and edible and can vary in color from light green to golden yellow. Most people prefer to eat papaya after it becomes soft to the touch. The custard-like pulp tastes like banana and ranges in color from white to deep orange. The seeds are few and large, so papayas are easy to eat raw.

Most of the legs are sold in the highway markets, because the shelf life is short. Commercially, the leg is important in juices, pies, cakes, custard, ice cream and other processed products.

The papaya tree was voted by Better Homes and Gardens, in 2000, as the landscape tree of the year. Papaya and the papaya tree are loaded with extracts beneficial for health. The bark contains fluids that demonstrate anti-tumor properties and have been used over the years to combat scarlet fever and red skin rashes. These extracts from papaya trees are very useful as organic herbicides (pesticides).

Papaya fruits are rich in minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. The fruit also contains abundant concentrations of vitamin C, protein and its derived amino acids.

There are several grafted paw paw cultivars, but their range of adaptation is very narrow, and many cultivars that produce bumper crops of large fruits in Kentucky, Indiana, or West Virginia do not perform satisfactorily in Georgia, Florida, Carolina, or Alabama. Consider purchasing seedling improved paw-leg trees, which appear to be more universally adaptable. Try some of these trees in your garden for a delicious delicacy.

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