GROW O'ahu

Island Style Gardening and Plant-Based Living

Papaya and the Blushing Gardeners


We giggled over bisexual fruit.  I’m still giggling a bit that someone had to show me where the male parts were.  That had never happened to me before.

Our mentor kept using the word Hermaphrodite.  That’s a word I was fairly certain wasn’t allowed to be spoken amongst civilized people anymore.  But alas, when talking papaya, it is the only way to speak of the flowers that are both male and female.  Hence our coveted Island varieties!

We eat quite a bit of papaya at our house- it has almost double the vitamin C of oranges and it’s yummy on it’s own with a little squirt of lime or as our son prefers, mashed up in oatmeal with a dollop of yogurt on top.  He went through a stage when he was a baby where he only ate “orange” foods- papaya and mango were the favorites.  So I was excited to learn more about this delicious fruit, but when I reading  Jennifer Baumgardner’s Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics, I have to admit, I was not thinking about the amazing papaya.

This, is a lovely female papaya flower.  If you pulled off one of her petals, it would just look like you pulled off a petal.  These smell really nice too.

But on a hermaphrodite papaya, if you pull off a petal it has the male portion there too!  A little stamen at the base of the petal-

Ideally you want the bisexual type, as a female will not produce fruit on her own, and though a male can produce fruit, it is not as productive.  (Easy now- keep the fruit dialogue nice.)

So there you have it.  Ideal papaya fruit producing tree has a balance of male and female parts and energies on one tree.  And really, couldn’t we all strive for a bit more ying/yang, male/female balance within ourselves?

Wonder if Ms. Baumgardner puts papaya on her oatmeal too?


Author: Carmen

Things I love: justice in all forms; flowers; locally grown food; cloth-diapering; breastfeeding; feminist theory; outdoor play; beaches; wine; Divine interventions; 4-H and coffee. Things I loathe: racism; homophobia; toxic crap; misogyny; litterbugs; the zombie apocalypse and pitbull-haters. My formal education is in sociology, gender studies, and public policy. I'm also a Lactation Educator; 4-H Youth Development coordinator a Certified Master Gardener and a graduate of a Permaculture Design Course. I've been blogging for several years on dozens of topics- everything from women's health to breed-specific legislation. But the thing I like to write about most is my gardening, food adventures and my kids. So there you have it. Please be kind. Thanks.

4 thoughts on “Papaya and the Blushing Gardeners

  1. Who knew gardening could be so titillating? Very interesting info, and written in a fun style! Thanks for the info.

  2. how big is your papaya tree… I lived in a rented house one time and the papaya were the size of footballs…. only 15 foot up , the only way to get them without a laddrer was to shake the tree and jump back fast to catch them without splatting them or being splatted ,

    kept me amused for a while
    xx Alison

  3. I dream of football sized papaya! Our little tree is tiny still, in a pot. But we trade eggs for papaya with neighbors until ours is a big guy/girl.


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