The Caricaceae are a family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales, found primarily in tropical regions of Central and South America and Africa. They are short-lived evergreen pachycaul shrubs or small trees growing to 5–10 m tall. One species, Vasconcellea horovitziana is a liana and the three species of the genus Jarilla are herbs. Many species bear edible fruit and are source of papain .
Based on molecular analyses, this family has been proposed to have originated in Africa in the early Cenozoic era, ~66 million years ago (mya). The dispersal from Africa to Central America occurred ~35 mya, possibly via ocean currents from the Congo delta. From Central America, the family reached South America 19-27 mya.
The family comprises six genera and about 34-35 species:
- Carica – one species, Carica papaya (Papaya), Americas
- Cylicomorpha – two species, Africa
- Horovitzia – one species, Mexico
- Jacaratia – eight species, Americas
- Jarilla – three species, Americas
- Vasconcellea – twenty species, Americas
- "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III.". Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161 (2): 105–121. 2009. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x.
- "Correct names for some of the closest relatives of Carica papaya: A review of the Mexican/Guatemalan genera Jarilla and Horovitzia". Phytokeys. 2013.
- "A dated phylogeny of the papaya family (Caricaceae) reveals the crop’s closest relatives and the family’s biogeographic history". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 2012. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2012.05.019.
- Germplasm Resources Information Network: Caricaceae
- Ghent University: Cylicomorpha checklist
- e-Monograph of Caricaceae
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