The four large Babaco Papayas on my Babaco Papaya tree proved too heavy for the tall trunk. I went out this morning to the dreadful sight of the trunk broken in half, the top half hanging by a few woody threads from the bottom half. The four papayas were on the greenhouse bench. I called the doctor (Johnny) to come quickly with duct tape (naturally). I poked a sturdy bamboo stake into the ground next to the papaya tree and held the top half of the trunk upright while Johnny duct-taped it to the stake. I don't know if my beloved papaya will survive. Nor do I know if the papayas, now resting on the kitchen counter, will ripen off tree.*Late news flash! See end of post!*
I researched (via Wikipedia) and learned that Babaco Papayas are not really papayas, which is why they don't taste like papayas. "The Babaco (Vasconcellea × heilbornii; syn. Carica pentagona), is a hybrid cultivar in the genus Vasconcellea from Ecuador. It is a hybrid between Vasconcellea cundinamarcensis (syn. Carica pubescens), and Vasconcellea stipulata (syn. Carica stipulata). ...The babaco fruit is seedless and the smooth skin can be eaten, and is
said to have tastes of strawberry, papaya, kiwi and pineapple. The fruit
is pentagonal in shape, therefore giving it the scientific name of Carica pentagona."
So that is why our papayas taste "tropical" but not like papayas... and why they don't have seeds. I had only recently learned that my papaya was a Babaco papaya by seeing a photo on the web of fruit that looked just like our fruit. I have a vague memory of buying, sometime in the distant past, a "Babaco papaya". Apparently, it did not, as far as I knew, survive, but mysteriously rose, like the phoenix, out of a deserted pot a few years ago and quickly grew to produce fruit over and over. So maybe that's a sign that this poor broken tree in the greenhouse (aka jungle room) will also survive. One can hope.
*Happy Days! I researched further (http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/babaco.html ) and learned that the way to propogate Babacos is to whack the trunk into one foot lengths, treat the ends with rooting hormone, and plunk them in sand until roots develop and leaves appear. So I can take the duct tape off my tree and chop it up. If I dare. Also, fruits are routinely taken off the tree at the first sign of yellowing and ripened off the tree. Three of these fallen papayas have maybe a hint of yellow so there's hope for the fruit. And definitely hope for future Babaco Papayas in my jungle room. One broken trunk is not a tragedy after all.