English Name: Pawpaw
Botanical Name: Carica papaya
Yoruba Name: Ìbepé
Hausa Name: Gwanda
Igbo Name: Okwuru beeke
German & Afrikaans: papaja
DESCRIPTION: A large tropical fruit with yellow and green skin, generally eaten raw when ripe, sweet orange or red flesh with black seeds. It also has a nursery rhyme that is actually composed with the name pawpaw (I think that rings a bell).
ORIGIN: The pawpaw is indigenous tropical Central America research shows that the exact origin is America, but it is closely related to the “monkey papay” , carica peltata hook and Arn of Mexico and Costa Rica, which is probably the female of C. bourgecei Solms-laub. It is possible that it appeared first in those part in Central America where that specie was found, but on the other hand it must have resulted from several hybridizations.
Carica papaya was first brought to the notice of Europeans by Oviedo, who was director of mines in Hispaniola from 1513 to 1525. He wrote that Alphonse de Valverde had brought the seeds from the coasts beyond Panama to Darie, from where it was carried to San Domingo and to other islands in the West Indies. It seems that on the discovery of America, it had not reached its possible limits of distribution in the New world, although, at that time, it had become fairly well distributed on the mainland of tropical America.
It was only much later, in 1626, that seeds of papaya were introduced to Europe from India. The Spaniards carried the plant from West Indies to Manila along with its Hispaniola name, papaya, which is still used in the Philippine islands. From there it was brought by either Portuguese or Spaniards to Eastern Malaya. It must have as well reached Malacca and Goa in years 1583 & 1589 respectively.
According to the Dutch traveller Linschoten, the botanist Raheed from Dutch made illustrations not long after he became governor of Ceylon from there the seeds spreads amongst the numerous islands and according to Sturterant (1919) it was known throughout the island of the Pacific by 1800. In the middle of the 18th century, Lauriero saw the papaya in Zanzibar and it was believed that it was brought by Portuguese to East Africa and also discovered later in South Africa.
NATURAL BENEFITS: It reduces the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, Cancer, aiding indigestion, improves the blood glucose and improves wound healing also a good source of vitamin C.
USES: Eaten raw, used as fruit juice, jam, etc. Used in savoury dishes e.g Stuffed pawpaw.