Papayas (Carica papaya, or pawpaw, of the family Cari-caceae) are native to tropical America. Brazil is the major producer, with worldwide production in 1992 estimated at 4 million metric tons (4). The papaya plant is a giant herb, rather than a tree, because it lacks woody tissue. The stem grows 20 to 30 ft tall and bears fruit near the stem. The fruit may be oblong or elliptical, up to 20 lb, and orange. The flesh may be orange to red and surrounds a large seed cavity containing many seeds. The fruit is consumed fresh or as puree, which is used to produce juices, nectars, jams, jellies, sherbets, dairy products, and confections Papaya leather is made by drying the puree. Papaya slices or chunks are canned or frozen and used in fruit salads, ice creams, sherbets, and confections.

Another plant is also called PaPaw. This is Asimina triloba (Michigan banana, of the family Annonaceae), a small ornamental tree that grows in temperate zones. The fleshy, oblong fruit is about 3 to 5 in. long and has a banana-like flavor. It is eaten fresh or as an ingredient in fruit salads, baked goods, and confections.

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