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papaya equivalent

papaya equivalent

Of all the Caricas and relatives do any approximate the true papaya in flavour AND tolerate frost. Sadly the babaco does not do it for me . Reading about the "papayeula" or is it "papayuelo" it seems as though it tastes like an apple which is a bit Irish if you already have apples.

The following thread was started by jed on November 19, 2010 at 3:56 pm PST



Vasconcellea is a different genus, with different tastes. Extremely disappointing for anyone wanting a papaya-substitute, but can be quite good if you can appreciate them for what they are.

The above followup was added by Ben on November 19, 2010 at 8:13 pm PST.

Carica quercifolia, not a big winner, but not bad either

Carica quercifolia, not a big winner, but not too bad eihter and is fairly cold hardy, down to the high 20s with no damage. Last winter, limbs were killed back to 1 1/4 inch wood, from one night of 25F, preceded by 14 hours below 32F.

On a good year, lots of fruit, very good papaya taste, and decent sweetness, but no Solo Hawaiian fruit. My wife likes them, but they are mostly seeds, they are around 2 inches and around 1/2 inch and less in diameter, basically pointed at each end, 1/2 inch in the centers. If you gum them, taste like papaya, but not super great, chew the seeds and it gets fairly peppery tasting.

Takes both a male and female tree to produce fruit, or graft a male one the female. I had that until last winters freeze, but it did set a small amount of fruit this year, from a small potted tree in the backyard, not in the exact air flow path to it.

It is a novel tree specimen, everyone who comes by, wants to know what it is, it is so different looking.


The above followup was added by David Johnson, Waterford CA zone 14 on November 20, 2010 at 2:21 am PST.


Looks as if I'll have to buy papaya to feed my habit. Nothing it seems approximates a red papaya out of the refrigerator on a hot day.

The above followup was added by jed jed on November 21, 2010 at 10:34 pm PST.

Jed, where do you live.

Jed, where do you live. The milder your winter area, the easier it woud be to grow one outside protected some.

They do handle some cold and frosts, I had some in a greenhouse, barely heated and had fruit.


The above followup was added by David Johnson, Waterford CA zone 14 on November 22, 2010 at 2:07 pm PST.

That's what I was thinking

Easier to build a little greenhouse to grow proper papaya's than trying to breed a similar mountain papaya, with enough water stored inside the greenhouse you should be able to grow them unheated in a greenhouse almost anywhere in Australia

The above followup was added by Jason on November 22, 2010 at 7:37 pm PST.

a cold part of Oz

The Blue Mts outside Sydney gets minus 4 deg C in winter on half a dozen nights . I was thinking I would grow papaya in a pot for a year taking it inside on cold nights and then plant it out for a year to obtain fruit. I understand plants grown from cuttings stay smaller and ,thus, easier to protect. The Mexican variety is reputed to be more cold tolerant (if not as tasty.)

The above followup was added by jed on November 22, 2010 at 10:58 pm PST.

hey Jed


I didn't realise you were an Aussie. How close to you do you see papayas in backyards? I certainly recall seeing some good ones in Sydney gardens. I'm in coastal Hawkes Bay, NZ, climatically very similar to Orbost VIC, so probably cooler than you on average but without any frost. I can't quite get them to grow here, they might survive a year or two outside but never ripen fruit. I've got some fruiting at moment under a very simple plastic GH film with night-time temps as cold as outside but significantly warmer days.

Blue Mtns is a pretty big place, some of the lower Blue Mtn sites should be warm enough to grow papaya.

The above followup was added by Ben on November 23, 2010 at 0:54 am PST.

mid Bblue Mts.

It's pretty cold on still ,cloudless nights and there have been many of those in a drought. I have seen papayas growing in western Sydney but the books say that , if they receive insufficient heat, the papayas will taste inferior.One book I read says that Papayas have been grown in conservatories in Russia. Damn Commies stealing even our fruit now!

The above followup was added by jed on November 23, 2010 at 2:14 pm PST.

Papaya and cold

Jed the Russians are just about the mostly OTT capitalists in the world now!
In my experience, its cold wet soil you need to worry about with papaya. Cold air temps will knock them about but they usually bounce back. Cold soil kills them dead.
I'm currently growing some Florida Jack seedlings, supposedly more cold tolerant than most papaya. Supposedly...

The above followup was added by Virgil on November 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm PST.

Florida Jack papaya

I was just about to suggest these...I have some seeds coming but haven't grown them yet. You can order them from TradeWinds, here's the page with their description, more than half way down the page.

I ordered mine from a CRFG source, but it's taken so long (months) that I would have ordered from TradeWinds had I know, the price is about the same also.

The above followup was added by John zone 9b Topanga, Ca on November 23, 2010 at 4:39 pm PST.

Florida Jack

I planted three seeds way back in the Spring (from the CRFG seed bank). They are in an unheated greenhouse and I have to say that under those conditions they are the slowest-growing things in existence (perhaps tied with some Waimanolo's which I can't even remember when I planted).

Anyway, they are pitiful, tiny little things--healthy, but I fear not destined to survive the winter.

The Waimanolos look good, about 1 foot tall now, but it has taken a very long time to get there. I hope they survive.

I have every intention of trying Ben's experiment with a high tunnel come this Spring, but if the papayas survive, I'm not sure I'll risk them in there!

The above followup was added by Steve in Los Osos, 9a, Sunset 16/17 on November 23, 2010 at 5:23 pm PST.

-4C = 24.8F

My temps get down to 28F (.2.2C) 3 times each year, and I wouldn't even think about leaving a papaya outside. But I have about 25-30 6-8" seedlings in a south facing window so I might sacrifice one as an experiment. I have 5 varieties, Solo Sunrise, Solo Sunset, Maridol, Sweet Sue, Waimanolo...which would stand the best chance? They are in foam cups with a mix of 50% perlite, 25% compost, 25% cactus and orchid mix. I'm watering them as rarely as possible, every 2 weeks or so right now.

I have a 4ft 4 bulb T5 grow light coming and I'll use that with some of the papaya seedlings, on top of a heating mat to try to get them to survive the winter indoors.

I agree that it seems to be wet and cold soil that kills them. I've also read that the Florida Jack tolerates cool temperatures better than the other varieties, but no mention of the effect of cold wet soil on it. Here's a link with some photos of Florida Jack.

The above followup was added by John zone 9b Topanga, Ca on November 23, 2010 at 5:36 pm PST.

Florida jack

Based on the pics of Florida Jack I can't help wondering if it a true Carica Papaya- that fruiting habit is pretty left of field. What do others think?

The above followup was added by virgil on November 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm PST.

looks ok


Looks ok to me. I've seen papayas like that in Australia, and also the South African FL-2 has the same habit. We get conditioned to the Solo type flowering habit I think.

If your plants fruit can you save me some seeds please?

The above followup was added by Ben on November 24, 2010 at 0:25 am PST.

A little warmer here Jed

I'm near Narooma, and a really hardy papaya just manages to survive and fruit in the area, but all the ones I've ordered from Daleys have withered during the winter. Not a reflection on Daleys but rather on the problems of root damage in cold conditions and the importance of getting the hardiest possible strain - not red ones. Papayuelo does grow well here. I'd like to experiment with grafting onto that sometime.

The above followup was added by lachlann, Sth Coast, NSW, z11 on November 24, 2010 at 4:09 am PST.

pleasant backwater

I am always envious of the Americans with their depth of opportunities ,both for buying plants and for exchanging info. I content myself with the thought that in Australia we are in a backwater albeit a pleasant one.

The above followup was added by jed on November 24, 2010 at 1:37 pm PST.


Hi Lachlann,

Do these climate stats look about right?

I'm a little surprised at how low the daytime highs are over the summer, keeping in mind the fact that Aussie mean figures are always skewed upwards by your crazy heatwaves. Still, it looks like a pretty good climate to me! Your about 1C warmer at night consistently, and slightly warmer in winter days than me. I get 2x as much winter rain as you (but about the sanme sept-feb), which is not good for growing tropicals. Apart from Aussie heatwaves, your climate seems ideal for growing tropicals under plastic!

The above followup was added by Ben on November 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm PST.

Don't get me started.

I gloat and rant about how wonderful the climate is here. Yes those figures are correct. It should be possible to grow almost everything here, though I am still a newbie experimenting. The mountains to the west protect the coastline, creating a warm winter, but in summer when desert Aussie winds are blowing over the mountains, an eddy of cool sea air is sucked in underneath. It gets quite warm by ten a.m. then the sea wind blows in - and the ocean temp here is 18-21 degrees. I haven't resorted to plastic yet., but rather to north facing microclimates. Bananas and mangoes fruit. But I am applying Axel's wisdom with apples and I figure summers are cool enough for good apples. Main problems here are fruit fly and not enough winter chill for those that really need it.
Ben I read about some of your grafting experiments onto papayuelo. Any words of wisdom to summarize? My babaco on its own roots dwindled with a mess of nematodes.

The above followup was added by lachlann, Sth Coast, NSW, z11 on November 25, 2010 at 4:48 am PST.


Hi Lachlann,

I'd still build a plastic cover area in your climate, then you could grow anything that grows at least as far north as Cairns! Perfect compromise, live in a mild climate but garden in the tropics when you want to.

Grafting carica and Vasconcellea is pretty easy, just make sure there is a bud at the extremities of every cut, and don't tie too tightly (ie leave some air gaps). Rotting is the main problem, some ventilation fixes it. I had a talk once with a guy near Murwillumbah who was grafting babaco onto papaya to get them to survive the wet season. He found it hilarious that I was grafting papaya onto babaco to get them to survive the cold.

The above followup was added by Ben on November 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm PST.

Ben, wondered about graft rot

Ben, wondered about graft rot. Thought about venting them more, but figured better to cover everything with grafting tape, that dehydration was the greatest threat. But maybe not, now that you bring this up..

I know I have tried many times and normally out of dozen grafts or more, might get one survivor, all of rest very quickly a week or two rot at the graft point. normally the applied scion piece rots, like it did not take for some reason, like incompatibility.

I had two plants from before, kept in a warm place this last winter, but they showed leaf problems like root rot or something. One died from rot at the graft point, even though it should of been healed, it was over a year old.


The above followup was added by David Johnson, Waterford CA zone 14 on November 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm PST.


You can see by this old picture (10 years ago?) how I do it. This is South African FL-2 on a babaco roots. The extreme bottom left of the scion had a node, the extreme upper right of the r/s had a node. This node at the extremities of the graft seems to keep the sapflow going, which prevents the plant matter dieing and rotting away. I tied the grafting tape tightly, but only covered with an open-ended plastic bag.

I don't do this anymore, instead interested in true papayas under plastic.

The above followup was added by Ben on November 26, 2010 at 0:15 am PST.

grafting tecknique

I wonder if using an aproach graft on young seedlings would have a higher sucess rate.
This is how watermelon used to be grafted comercially.

Seeds of rootstock and scion are germinated in adjacent cells of a flat.
The young seedlings are leaned near to one another and an aproach graft is made. The sucess rate is quite high even though the tissue is soft and prone to dehydration.

You can buy tiny grafting clips for performing these grafts...they look like tiny cloths pins.

I can imagine this working well for papaya.
It might be worth a try.
Any of the cold hardy wild species could be used as rootstock.


The above followup was added by Jeff (woodland) on November 26, 2010 at 6:51 am PST.

I just used a Cleft Graft

I just used a Cleft Graft.


The above followup was added by David Johnson, Waterford CA zone 14 on November 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm PST.

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