A seed-bearing fruit is formed as a result of pollination where pollen is transferred from stamen to pistil.
There are 4 different types of Papaya trees.
- Male trees/ Staminate trees that bear male flowers. These flowers only have the male parts (stamen)
- Female trees/ pistillate trees that bear female flowers. These flowers have only the female parts (pistil).
- Bisexual trees that bear male and female flowers.
- Hermaphrodite trees that bear “perfect flowers” that have both the male and female parts in the same flower.
Male trees do not have the egg so their flowers don’t turn into fruits. They only have pollen that can be used to cross-pollinate female trees.
Female trees can bear fruits with or without pollination. The fruits formed without pollination will not have seeds.
Hermaphrodite trees have both the male and female parts in the same flower. So they self-pollinate and have a higher chance of bearing fruits. The seeds formed by these trees will have seeds.
Male trees are usually cut as they do not bear fruits. Hermaphrodite trees are preferred over the other types.
How to find out if a tree is a male papaya tree or a female papaya tree
Only after the seedling grows and starts blooming, we can identify its gender.
Male trees form clusters of flowers that hang on long stalks.
Female flowers and hermaphrodite flowers usually have short stalks.
Farmers and gardeners plant more seeds than required as some of them will grow up to be a male tree.
It is commonly believed that stressful conditions can cause sex reversal in papaya trees. Extreme weather can turn a hermaphrodite tree into a predominantly male tree while carving/ damaging the tree trunk slightly can turn a male tree into a female tree.
Manual cross-pollination can be done by touching male and then female flowers with a brush or feather.