Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

papaya Carica papaya, one of the best tropical fruits, looks rather like a pear-shaped melon.

It is native to the lowlands of eastern C. America, but even before the arrival of Europeans it was already being cultivated well beyond this area. The Spanish and the Portuguese invaders took to it and quickly spread it to their other settlements. It was being grown in the W. Indies by 1513 and by 1583 had been taken from there to the E. Indies via the Philippines, taking with it its Carib Indian name ababai, altered to ‘papaya’. It also reached Africa at an early date.