Carica papaya L.

Carica papaya L.

Greetings and welcome to the end of the year!  This has been a year of progress for us here at the Fruit and Spice Park, and I hope it has been for you as well.  As we go into what we call Winter, I will be highlighting some very tropical fruits to keep us in a warm frame of mind.  I also want to share just a little about one of the greatest botanical minds of all time, to shed some light on how we classify and keep track of the plants at the park.

Before we jump into that, allow me to highlight our upcoming Redland Heritage Festival and Craft Fair.  This will be held on December 8-9, 2018 here at The Fruit and Spice Park.  The Redland area has a long and deeply rooted legacy of farming and pioneer settlement.  At this event we celebrate this history and invite you out to enjoy music, food, and fun for all ages.  More information at

We classify plants at the park by using their scientific name after the common name of a plant, such as Papaya, Carica papaya L.  The Scientific name uses a system called binomial nomenclature, consisting of the organism’s genus and species, and which is used to classify all living things. The single L. used in papaya’s scientific name denotes that this species was named by Carl Linnaeus, an 18th century Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist.  In his time, the pace of exploration and discovery was staggering, and all sorts of creatures were being classified and named haphazardly, with no central logical system.  It was Linnaeus who devised a superior system that we still use to this day to help us study the natural world.  Thanks, Carl!

Bixa, Bixa Orellana, is also known as achiote and lipstick tree.  Originating in central and south America, it is a shapely large shrub or small tree with beautiful pink flowers and striking, spiky red seed pods that look dangerous but are in fact soft to the touch.  Inside the pod, the numerous seeds are coated with a red waxy aril.  These pods and the seeds inside in fact are used as a spice, body paint, lip coloring, and food coloring in.  You may also know it as annatto which is used in everything from American cheese, to coffee creamer, and vanilla ice cream.  It is used in Mexican dishes like cochinita pibil, to give that rich red color.  Our Bixa are located in the Tropical Americas zone, near the Allspice collection.

Papaya, Carica papaya L., is another native of the American tropics.  Most of us are familiar with the large yellow skinned fruit—which is in fact a berry–with fragrant orange flesh that can be found in most markets year round.  This is one of the fruits that has found its way around the world, and is not only important in its native lands, but has become important in Asian cuisine as well.  Papaya are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are borne on separate trees.  There is a twist however.  There are also varieties that are hermaphroditic—flowers that possess both male and female parts.  This allows fruit production with only one tree.  Papaya can be found throughout the park, especially concentrated in the tropical Americas and Asian greenhouse.

Thanks for joining me on this this little trip that has taken us from Sweden, to the tropical Americas, and on to south Asia.  I am constantly amazed at the interconnected world we live in, as illustrated by the way the humble Papaya has made its way around the world.  We have at least a hundred stories like this here at The Fruit and Spice Park, and we hope to see you soon to share one.


Cochinita Pibil


2 pounds pork butt roast with bone

2 tablespoons achiote paste

1/3 cup orange juice

2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2 habanero peppers, seeded and chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

2 red onions, sliced into rings


Poke holes all over the pork with a fork. Rub achiote paste all over the pork, and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the orange juice, lemon juice, and habanero peppers. Mix in the cumin, paprika, chili powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Place pork in the mixture, cover, and refrigerate overnight, turning two or three times.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Wrap the pork and marinade in aluminum foil or banana leaves that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes. Place into a casserole dish, and cover.

Bake for about 2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone. The slower you cook it, the better it is. You could also bake it in a 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) oven for 4 or 5 hours, or in a slow cooker without the foil or leaves.

While the pork is cooking, make the sauce. Bring the red wine vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Add onions, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until tender. Pour sauce over pork, and serve with white rice and corn tortillas. Each person can make tacos or fajitas with the pork, the rice and the sauce.