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  • be propagated and commercialized. One, the babaco (see later), is already entering international trade.

  • Creating new fruits. Highland papayas are fascinating “raw materials” from which new fruits can be created. Given their great variability and the fact that many are interfertile, the opportunities for generating new taste combinations are immense. Horticulturists in several South American countries, as well as in New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, Italy, and Israel, are now exploring such crosses.

  • Extending the range of papaya cultivation. These Andean cousins come from subtropical areas with elevations up to 3,000 m. Their genetic endowment for cold resistance could be of great significance: adding a few degrees of cold adaptability could expand enormously the world's production of, and appreciation for, common papayas.2 They might, for instance, result in papayas that are suited to subtropical regions (such as Southern California and the shores of the Mediterranean) where commercial papaya cultivation is now impossible.3

  • Improving papaya production. The tropical papaya is plagued by pests. Genes from highland papayas have already been effectively employed in creating cultivars for regions where diseases (especially viruses) and pests (such as fruit flies) now restrict papaya cultivation, but more genetic benefits remain to be tapped.

The following pages highlight six promising Andean highland papayas (four species and two hybrids).


Chamburo. From Panama to Chile and Argentina, the chamburo5 (Carica pubescens 6 ) is commonly found around mountain villages. It

2 The highland species are difficult to cross with common papaya using traditional breeding techniques, but newer methods seem likely to make the process routinely successful. For example, tissue culture techniques to propagate plants from fertile but nonviable seeds add an important tool to the quest for new papaya combinations. Information from J. Martineau, R. Litz, and H.Y. Nakasone.
3 Highland papayas will not withstand heavy frost, but they yield under cooler climatic conditions than normal papaya plants. Their flowers and fruits are less affected by cool weather. Thus, they produce ripe fruit at cool temperatures where normal papaya fruits remain immature and insipid until they rot.
4 For the sake of simplicity, throughout the chapter we have used the scientific names of Badillo (1971) for species, and those of Heilborn (1921) for hybrids. Only the most common of the multitudinous synonyms are listed.
5 Other common names include chambur, chamburu, chambura, papaya de olor, papaya de montaña, papaya de altura, papaya de tierra fria, col de monte, papayuella, papayo, siglalón, chihaulcan, chiehuacan, bonete (Mexico), and mountain papaya or mountain pawpaw. Some of these names are also used for other highland papayas. In southern Ecuador as well as outside the Andes (notably New Zealand), the name “chamburo” commonly refers to Carica stipulata (see below).
6 Strictly speaking, the botanical name is Carica pubescens Lenné & Koch. Synonyms include C. cundinamarcensis and C. candamarcensis.

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