“Discarded papaya seeds (Carica papaya) strewn by humans or dispersed by birds do grow well and easily under favourable conditions in the tropics.
“The germinated seed decides if the fruit tree is to be fruit bearing – being female. A male plant photographed here has only showers of long stemmed blooms to show that will eventually wilt (left).
“To the disappointment of homemakers who hope for fruits, such fruitless plant considered to be useless would usually be abandoned or uprooted and demoted to the rubbish heap.
“Of lesser known is the male healthy blooms or flowers though extremely bitter are edible and often used by the small local community to compliment leafy salads or a quick stir fry with meat and ginger. Sometimes they are sold in night markets.
“Of medicinal value, the blooms when immersed in hot water, provides a bitter brew for a temporary, quick fix to reduce high blood pressure and lower sugar levels in diabetics.
“The buds upon blooming emit a mild fragrance that does attract insects. To add to its attraction, a male Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) was observed to be prospecting nectar off these blooms from a roadside tree partially overgrown with weeds (above).
“Pollen smear on bill tips of the bird is evident here (above).”
Avian Writer Daisy O’Neill
26th January 2013
Copyright article and copy Images: Courtesy of Daisy O’Neill Bird Conservation Fund
Image of male papaya flowers by YC Wee, others by Daisy O’Neill.