Pawpaw Tips

  • The fruit of boron-deficient Pawpaw are deformed and bumpy due to the irregular fertilisation and development of seeds within the fruit. Ripening is uneven and the developing fruit secrete pinkish white to brown latex. Heavy premature shedding of deficient male tree flowers and impaired pollen tube development can lead to poor set in the fruit-bearing female trees.  Ref: Plant Nutrient Disorders 2 Tropical Fruit and Nut Crops.
  • Ray Johnson says he was talking to Garry Grant the papaya chap who sells papaya seed and he said that to get good flavour in your pawpaws you must feed them monthly. When they are young with no fruit, put on a high nitrogen fertiliser monthly then when they start to fruit, add three handfuls of something like Organic Xtra or Dynamic Lifter etc. plus a handful of Sulphate of Potash but do this monthly. Cut back over winter to 2 handfuls etc.
  • My pawpaw took a turn for the worse suffering from powdery mildew when it started to rain in winter.Garry Grant suggests a weekly spray from May of 1 part full cream milk and 10 parts water sprayed on. You'll know it's working when you see a scar on the fruit where the mildew has been. Garry no longer sells certified seed but he said most of us don't feed our trees enough. They need 100gm (a handful) of Sulphate of Potash per month which amounts to around 42gms of pure Potassium so if your pawpaws aren't sweet, it's because they need a lot more Potash. He is certified organic so uses a product by Incitec - 25kg for approx $25.00. They also require nitrogen so use chook pellets or equivalent. If they don't have that healthy green look, that's when they need it! Ref: Sheryl Backhouse
  • Papaya are easily cross pollinated. Even at 10 kilometres distance if the wind direction is favorable, papaya flowers if ready can be fertilized from other trees especially males. Insects are also good pollinating agents.   Ref:  Rex – Phillippines  rarefruit yahoogroup
  • Male papaya flowers are good source of papain - a tenderizer in cooking meat - gather, chop and dry them and every time you cook meat get a few grams and add to your cooking as a tenderizer.  Ref:   Rex
  • Problem with wildlife   My aunt in Cairns uses black mesh or you can also use insect screen to put over your fruit. She just uses pegs to clip it into place and uses it on her pawpaws.
  • I heard Annette McFarlane on radio - Saturday morning 6.30am mention that if you buy some orange balloons, fill them with water, and hang them at the bottom of your ripening pawpaws, then it should frighten those pesky possums away when the balloons explode.
  • Do you grow tasteless Pawpaws? I’d be interested in someone testing this theory out that I read in an old magazine. An old Chinese gardener in Cairns use to put butchers salt outside the root area then water it in. Let me know your outcome! Ref:  Sheryl Backhouse 
  • You can use the pawpaw/papaya seeds either dried or fresh. I usually use them dried in a peppercorn grinder. They really do taste like black pepper. To use fresh just put them in a blender with a bit of vinegar and grind them up small and then add whatever other salad dressing ingredients you want. Really quite healthy and also works as vermifuge (expels intestinal worms).  Ref: Oscar - Hawaii
  • Pawpaw seeds are also great as a replacement for pepper corns when making dill pickles.
  • In January this year I sun-dried slices of paw-paw. I put an old baking tray in the bottom of the drying box. The tray had baked on grease that I had previously (unsuccessfully) tried to remove with detergent and scrubbing brush. Five pieces of paw-paw dropped through the racks onto the tray. After the drying I noticed that the fallen bits appeared to remove the burnt-on grease from the dish. The fallen bits of pawpaw were blacker than the tray had been whereas those still on the rack were orange. My brother checked the tray out and suggested I clean all my metal cookware with fresh pawpaw but as yet I haven't given it a go.

    I have known for a long time that pawpaw is used as a meat tenderizer and have read that pawpaw contains the proteolytic enzyme (papain) but the tray appeared to contain just grease (fat) which is a different molecule to protein. I have tried to find out more from the Internet but have come across more nonsense than sense.

    In the early 1990s I was told a story (possibly an urban myth) about a friend of a friend who consumed pawpaw and water only for sometime and ended up in hospital with a dissolving stomach. I believe we have some biochemists among us so I'm hoping that they know whether papain is a lipase as well as a proteolytic enzyme and/or more about paw-paw enzymes and what they catalyse.
    Ref:  Tirsha Raynlyn

  • Changing the sex of Pawpaw – an update by Peter Christensen.  Regarding the recent comments on Pawpaw in the Sunday Mail re: Edwin Menninger’s book “Fantastic Trees” where it mentioned that male pawpaw trees can have their sex changed to female by beheading them, I have previously tried it and it didn't work!  I mentioned this to the local nursery and this was suggested to be a non event. In my case it didn’t work on the male tree that lost its top.  I bought a DPI publication years ago called “Old Ways on the Farm” and it has an article on changing the sex of the pawpaw in it (Jun 1916). “The method of changing the sex of the male pawpaw tree by cutting it down to about three feet off the ground was accidentally proved in a garden at Milton this season. The owner cut down three male trees and inserted a female shoot on top of each. Owing probably to the very dry weather all these shoots died and two of the trees were rooted out. The third was left and it sent out two strong shoots about a foot below the top. These shoots bore female flowers and three fruits matured one of them remaining on the tree last May as shown in the accompanying illustration.”
  •  I have read your Feb-Mar newsletter article “changing the sex of papaw – an update” by Peter Christensen.  You might also find the following of interest.  Over 95% male papaw trees produce some hermaphrodite flowers in spring and can set from 5-25 fruit.  They are always a larger shape as are all hermaphrodite (bisexual) fruit and are called ‘long toms’.  The seeds of this fruit give 75% male and 25% female plants.  They are commercially used in breeding programs to produce a purer female line as they result from inbreeding or self-pollination.    Ref: Peter Young
  • We mentioned in a previous newsletter that you can eat the seed of Papaya. However, there is data that it can make men sterile and it is used as an aborticant in third world countries for women. Just Google.
  • If you are looking to buy seed, contact Phil Slocombe, PO Box 791, Malanda Qld 4885 Ph: 0456 368 245   Email: