Welcome to the Caricaceae website

This website is under construction and is being updated every week!!!


Carica papaya is a well-known crop, cultivated around the whole tropical region. Not only the fruits are very nutritive and appreciated everywhere, but also the papain is a very important enzyme used by different types of industries. Papain is an important component of medicines against stomachic diseases, is also used for tenderizing meat, for softening of textile as silk and leather, beer production and many others. However, Caricaceae includes other very interesting species regarded as unexploited crops which I will introduce you here. In addition to Carica papaya, here I provided detailed information on all wild papaya species including the highlands papayas from Andes and the closest relatives of papaya from Mexico and Guatemala.

Diversity and Distribution

Caricaceae are a small family of flowering plants comprising 6 genera and around 35 species. The family exhibits a disjunct distribution, with ca. 33 species in the Neotropics and two in Africa (Cylicomorpha parviflora to the west Africa and Cylicomorpha solmsii to the east). In the Neotropics five genera occur naturally in Mesoamerica and two of them are widespread also in South America. The genus Vasconcellea , the largest one with c. 21 species occur mainly at high altitudes in Northern Andes making northwestern South American (specially Ecuador, Colombia and Peru) the region with the highest number of Caricaceae species. But not all Vasconcellea are restrict to Andean environments. There are also some species occurring in the lowlands such as Vasconcellea microcarpa, V. quercifolia and V. cauliflora. In opposition to the preference for high altitudes, Jacaratia , another mostly Southern American genus is widespread in the lowlands with only 1 species (Jacaratia chocoensis) occurring in the Andes region. Despite the high number of species in South America, the Mesoamerica region harbors all five Neotropical genera. Jacaratia mexicana and J. dolichaula are endemic to Central America; Vasconcellea cauliflora is widespread from northern Venezuela to Mexico. Horovitzia cnidoscoloides, the only species in the genus, is endemic to cloud forests in southern Mexico. Jarilla, with three species, occurs only in Mexico and Guatemala region. For precise distribution maps click here and search for the genus of your interest.

Distribution of Caricaceae. The different colors represent the number of species occurring in each geographic area as following: green= one species; orange= 2 to 5, yellow = 6 to 9 species and blue = >10 species.

Phylogenetic relationships

This cyber monograph of Caricaceae is a taxonomic resource for the papaya family. It provides information about all species and names in the family including distribution maps, species descriptions, uses, and evolutionary relationships. The site will help experts and enthusiasts identify a species, find its relatives and improve their understanding of this interesting plant family.

The Brazilian National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq) and German Research Foundation (DFG) fund the project. The database is developed by : Fernanda Antunes Carvalho. using BRAHMS
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