Is anyone familiar with this mountain Papaya (Vasconcellea hyb.)?

mark4321_gwJuly 18, 2014

I got a cutting (now rooted) and a fruit (now a seedling) of a mountain Papaya that grows in a friend's yard in San Francisco.

Fruits are about the size of an apricot, and there are many (!). There are many more, smaller fruits than for Vasconcellea pubescens, or for a Babaco, one of its hybrids

My friend told me the plant is Vasconcellea pubescens x Vasconcellea Dioeca. I'm not finding any evidence of the second name (or of V. dioica), however there is a V. monoica in the list of Vasconcellea species..

It's an attractive plant. Hopefully the photo captures that.

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I think it's a south America Babaco, by the glossy look of those green leaves.


This post was edited by sapote on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 16:14

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 4:13PM
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It's clearly not the hybrid referred to as a Babaco, although both have Vasconcelllea pubescens in their ancestry. I already indicated this and I am confused by your post. Babacos have many fewer, much larger fruits.

From the link below: "The babaco plant can produce from 30--60 fruits annually." As is obvious from the photo, the small fruits are produced in far greater abundance.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wikipedia Babaco article

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 6:04AM
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Have you eaten those fruits? I'm wondering if they get sweet. From the posts I've read it sounds like they need a hot summer to sweeten (correct me if I'm wrong).

If they taste good and grow well out here, I may hit you up for some seeds sometime.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 10:52AM
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I was given one fruit and one unrooted cutting. I was told in advance that the fruit had little flavor. The fruit was crisp, not soft. The others who tasted it with me assumed it was not ripe--I suspect it was indeed ripe. It did have a flavor, but not strong. I thought it was mildly pleasant tasting.

I've read that V. pubescens is usually eaten cooked as a vegetable. Patrick Worley, the hybridizer, said in response to a photo that I posted in a different forum that they (mountain Papayas in general?) are usually canned in a sugar syrup, and can be flavored with spices. It might be that a little work will be involved in best eating it.

So my conclusions are based one one small fruit that may or may not have been prepared correctly. I would grow this plant even if the fruits were poisonous--it's really very stunning.

As far as heat, the V. pubescens parent, at least, is a high elevation plant (roughly 2000 m or more). Plants from that elevation prefer, and usually require, cool but nearly frost-free conditions. Assuming the other parent is from a similar location, I would expect it would do best along the CA coast, SF, etc. and be OK in places like San Jose. Probably the heat in places like the Central Valley would be excessive. I doubt that it needs heat to ripen, since at that elevation the temperature almost never goes above 75 or 80, I think.

The one fruit had 5 seeds in it. However, I mistakenly thought that each seed was a cluster of 20-30 small seeds. It was not, and after a friend and I destroyed 2 seeds, I had 3 left. One germinated and has grown quickly.

One big question is whether the plants from seed will be effectively self fertile, like the mother plant apparently is. I know production of male and female flowers, etc. is a bit complicated for Papayas, and I don't know what the situation is with Vasconcellea.

Sf_rhino, you are welcome to some seeds when it starts producing fruit. Hopefully by then I will have a better idea as to whether all seedlings produce fruit.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 4:31PM
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Sounds great, keep us posted! It is an attractive plant.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 11:05AM
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Both plants that I have are growing quickly. I got a cutting and a fruit in March. Here are the rooted cutting and seedling on May 29th:

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:24PM
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And here they are on July 17, only a month and a half later. The rooted cutting should be obvious. The seedling is immediately below and slightly to the right.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:33PM
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I just noticed this, near the growing point of my plant (the rooted cutting). Is it a bud, already? I do have pictures of the flowers from my friend's mature plant, but no photos of very young buds.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:08PM
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That was in fact a bud, and the first flower opened, about 5 months after I got the unrooted cutting.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 1:15PM
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