An Unidentified Carica Species Found in Trinidad

Yasmin S. Baksh-Comeau, Winston Johnson


The family Caricaceae has four genera (Carica, Cylicomorpha, Jacaralia, Jarilla) and 31 species (Mabberley 1987) of which Carica papaya L. (papaw) is the most widespread and well known species grown throughout the tropics mainly for its edible fruits. Carica papaya is cultivated in Trinidad and Tobago, although it is partially naturalized around human settlement and nearby clearings. No other native or introduced species of Carica is recorded in the Hora of Trinidad and Tobago but herbarium records and recent collections from at least four different localities in the Northern Range suggest the presence of a native species. . The existence of a "wild papaw" collected in a gully off the EI Tucuche trail just above 450 m was brought to the attention of the authors in April 1987, when a specimen consisting of young frui~ female flower and leaf was submitted for identification at the National Herbarium of Trinidad and Tobago. It was quickly recognized as a rare, unknown species of Carica which matched two previously preserved specimens in the herbarium. Within the last two years, on at least four separate occasions, members of the public have been turning up with fruits of this plant from various localities. We have been following up these locality records and accumulating data for any specialist who may recognize or wish to study this plant.

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