CaricaceaePapaya family

  - Semi-herbaceous unbranched treelets to large trees.
  - Leaves palmately compound with 3 to numerous leaflets or simple and lobed.
  - Watery white latex.
  - Without stipules.
  - Some with spiny stems.
  - Tubular, cream-white flowers, 5-parted, fragrant at night.
  - Fruit a large berry.

Diagnosis: 1. Weak-stemmed trees or herb-like treelets with little stem branching, watery white latex, without stipules, leaves alternate, palmately veined and deeply lobed, the lobes often with secondary divisions. 2. Soft-wooded trees, with white latex, sometimes with trunk spines, without stipules, leaves alternate, palmately compound with 3-7 leaflets.

Local distribution: Both slopes, but not reaching the cloud forest.

Similar families
Bombacaceae: no latex, stipules and mucilage, tough wood.
Capparidaceae(Forchhammeria): no latex, with stipules, some simple leaves present, tough wood.
Euphorbiaceae: stipules, petiole glands.
Fabaceae: bean odor, stipules, free petals.
Hernandiaceae(Gyrocarpus): rank or garlic odor in leaf and bark.
Rutaceae(Casimiroa): translucent dots, aromatic odor.
Sapindaceae(Allophyllus): no latex, leaflets serrate.

Diversity: Total: 2 genera, 4 species. Trees: 2 genera, 3 species.

Comments: Includes the cultivated Papaya (Carica papaya), which often grows in the wild.

Credits: Images and text copyright 2000-2007, William A. Haber,