…I pick up several papayas, looking for the one,
Is it ripe? Should I buy two?…
By Kay Posselt
This large tree like plant is originally from southern Mexico, Central America and northern South America is now grown in most countries with a tropical environment available. They were introduced to Hawaii just over 100 years ago. Papayas have been used as a meat tenderizer, as a hair conditioner, for food and medicine. The stem and bark have been used for fiber to make rope.
Green papaya has been used for contraception and to induce abortion by the women of several countries, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Also the women who have been enslaved in the West Indies have used them to prevent bearing children into slavery! The green fruit and the tree’s latex have papain (an enzyme) available. This enzyme is used in the treatment of cuts, rashes, stings and burns. The flesh of the fruit is fermented and the resulting gel like paste is used as an ointment.
The fruit can be eaten ripe or unripe, without skin or seeds. They have been eaten in curries, salads and stews. The seeds are spicy and are sometimes ground as a black pepper substitute. In Asia the young leaves have been steamed and eaten much like spinach.
In magic use the papaya is ruled by the Moon and is often used in love spells. In Guatemala it is believed to be an aphrodisiac that acts specifically on men. It also can be used to protect the home, keep evil at bay, and to manifest desires.