The mountain papaya (Carica pubescens), also known as carica or karika and in the Bali area as gedang memedi, is one of seven edible papaya species in the Carica genus found in Indonesia. It is cultivated only in the highlands of Dieng in Central Java. It is classified as a small plant or shrub, similar to the common papaya (Carica papaya L.), but with more branches and a smaller size. Average height is 1-2 meters. Male flowers have long stem up to 15 cm long, and female flowers have short hard stem but larger overall size than male flowers.
This fruit grows at the altitude of 2000 meters above sea level, at low temperatures and with high rainfall. Not all places in the Dieng Plateau are suitable for C. pubescens. It does not grow well at the valley of Dieng at the altitude of 1400 meters, as in Kejajar village, but it grows very well at the top of Dieng at the altitude of 2400 meters, like in the village of Sembungan. The higher the place in the Dieng Plateau, the more carica plant will be found, hence it has a narrow distribution range.
Carica or mountain papaya has rounded shape, 6-10 cm long and 3-4 cm in diameter. Unripe fruit has dark green peel, which turns yellow when ripe. When carica is ripe enough, it size will increase to 6-15 cm long and 3-8 cm in diameter. Its pulp is firm, quite hard, and has a yellow-orange color with a sour taste and strong fragrance. Its black seed is covered with a white fleshy seed coat called the sarcotesta. Its sap contains a proteolitic enzyme called papain and can cause and itchy sensation on skin in some people.
Local farmer of Dieng Plateau usually plant carica among their potato, carrot or cabbage fields. They are widely cultivated, but they considered a secondary crop, to eat locally or to process and sell at a small scale. Transformed products, like carica in syrup, can fetch twice the price of the fresh fruit. Carica is usually processed into syrup, juice, candied fruit and jam. Its pulp also can be consumed fresh. In Java, this fruit is sold to travelers or tourists, consumed locally and canned. In Dieng, mountain papaya or carica is consumed locally and made into preserved drink, but these activities are still in small scope.Back to the archive >