Gondwanaland Trading Company
From the Ends of the Earth, to the Beginning of Time!

Mountain Papaya

We were cold, wet, muddy and tired as we were dropped off into a tiny two house town in Azuay province. We had missed our connecting ride and had to hitch a ride in an open truck full of native women speaking Kitchwa. One of them named Anna took either a liking to, or pity on us and insisted we come stay the night. We ate the most delicious potato soup around the hearth and despite the language barrier, made fast friends. The next morning we toured Anna’s garden and noticed a stand of short, fat Papaya.  It was obviously very cold tolerant as the nights often dipped into freezing temps but the trees looked verdant and green, festooned with golden colored fruit. We were given cuttings as a parting gift. Near as we can tell this is a naturally occurring hybrid of Carica stipulata and C. pubescens., which is also called the Mountain Papaya or Babaco. The Babaco thrives in a cool subtropical climate, free of frost and is much more tolerant of cool, damp winters than the regular Papaya grown in the tropics. The Babaco will withstand temperatures to about 28° F, although it may lose most of its leaves. The Babaco is ideally suited to container culture and also excellent for greenhouses as it is a small, herbaceous shrub, that grows to only about 6 feet in height, with an erect softwood trunk lined with leaf scars typical of other Caricas giving it a really cool, tropical look. The plant rarely branches but shoots often appear around the base. The thickness of the trunk is associated with the vigor of the plant. We sell these fast growing plants in 4” pots.