Papaya, (Carica papaya), also called papaw or pawpaw, is a succulent fruit of a large plant of the family Caricaceae. Though its origin is rather obscure, the papaya may represent the fusion of two or more species of Carica native to Mexico and Central America. Today it is cultivated throughout the tropical world and into the warmest parts of the subtropics. The papaya fruit is slightly sweet, with an agreeable musky tang, which is more pronounced in some varieties and in some climates than in others. It is a popular breakfast fruit in many countries and is also used in salads, pies, sherbets, juices, and confections. The unripe fruit can be cooked like squash.
The fruit is commonly spherical to cylindrical in form, is 75 to 500 mm (3 to 20 inches) or even more in length, and sometimes weighs as much as 9 to 11.5 kg (20 to 25.5 pounds). The very juicy flesh is deep yellow or orange to salmon-colored. Along the walls of the large central cavity are attached the numerous round, wrinkled black seeds.