Papayas are grown in many tropical climates of the world today. These trees have a rich history, as you will learn in these highlights.
- The age-old Mayan cultures called the papaya tree the ‘Tree of Life’. Mayans would make a paste with the fruit’s flesh, and they would then use it to treat skin rashes.
- The origins of papaya can vary, but it is thought to be native to northern South America, Central America, and Mexico.
- Oviedo, a Spanish adventurer, is featured in papaya literature documents and is thought to have found papayas growing along the Caribbean coasts of Panama and Colombia in 1526.
- Spaniards and Portuguese are thought to have carried papayas to other tropical climates of the world, including the Philippines, Malacca, India and other places.
- Christopher Columbus is believed to be the person who introduced papayas to Native Americans during his sea explorations.
- Papayas were used in many traditional medicine practices, particularly in Asia where pawpaw leaves were used to prepare tea that was believed to prevent malaria. Papaya seeds are also mentioned in folk medicine literature as things that could reduce inflammation and pain and cure digestive system issues, ringworms, fungal infections, burns, rashes, stings, and cuts.
- Australians began growing papayas in around 1800s and for more than 100 years they have used it to treat skin diseases.