Carica papaya, more commonly known as the papaya plant, has an important place beyond just the breakfast plate.
A plant of many uses, papaya has been shown to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiyeast properties, to name a few. Between the fruit, leaves, latex, and seeds, papaya can be used to aid in everything from the prevention of intestinal worms to the remedy of fungal skin diseases.
Papaya leaves, from which one can extract the proteolytic enzyme papain, are famously known for their meat tenderizing properties. After enjoying the fruit for breakfast, locals will wrap their meat with the leaves of the plant for a few hours in preparation for their next meal.
The enzyme is also found in, and can be more easily extracted from, the unripe (green) papaya fruit. The papaya fruit grows quickly and directly on the trunk of the tree.
Though the cooler, windy climate in Monteverde is not ideal for this fragile plant, papaya is a community favorite for its ability to grow all year round.
Blog post contribution by Bilan Haji-Mohamed, UGACR Photojournalism Intern