White papaya seeds

Papaya Disease & White Growth Anomaly Photographs
Photos of stringy sinuous white growth in the fruit of the Papaya (pawpaw) (Carica papaya L.)

Photographs and discussion of the cause and edibility concerns of white sinuous or filamentous growth through the fruit or ovary of a papaya (Carica papaya) or “pawpaw” address these questions:

What are the white lines or striations inside of a papaya? Why is the papaya white inside the fruit? Papaya (pawpaw) diseases causing white growth in the fruit, and is the white stuff inside my papaya a disease and is the papaya safe to eat?

What is the probable cause and what may be the significance of the white growths throughout the fruit of this papaya? Is this a plant disease, a fungus, or a genetic anomaly? Is this papaya safe to eat?

Included in this article series are photographs of plants and matching pollen from other areas in the U.S., Canada, Spain, France, and Mexico, and from other countries. Included are pollen and plants include the New York Hudson Valley. We include links to detailed articles about individual pollen and plant species.

We also provide an ARTICLE INDEX for this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Papaya (Carica papaya L.) White Growth or “Disease” Photographs

[Click to enlarge any image]

Shown here are photographs of a white fibrous growth throughout the normally-edible portion of the fruit of a papaya plant.

We have asked for opinions from experts on the papaya plant to address the following six questions. Readers and papaya experts are invited to CONTACT US with comments or suggestions.

  1. What is this white growth?
  2. Is it fungal, is it a plant disease, or is it a genetic disorder or aberration?

Above we see fairly typical papaya seeds in the center of this fruit, and in our second photo we see rather obvious indication that the white fibrous growth that permeates the normally pure orange fruit of the papaya ovary wall is emanating from the white liner or lactifer (latex ducts) to which seeds are attached and from which they are formed.

I think this may be a growth caused by early germination of some of the seeds along the interior wall of the papaya – notice that a few of the seeds themselves are covered in white material.

  1. What are the causes of this papaya “disease”?
  2. Is this papaya safe to eat?
  3. Are there external symptoms on a papaya fruit that might indicate the presence of this papaya disorder?
  4. Is there something else we should ask about this papaya and its edibiltiy?

Other observations about this specific papaya shown above included a sticky surface on the fruit’s exterior and a bit of (rather typical) mould growing at the fruit’s base.

I could but did not bother to identify this fungus as it is entirely common on other papayas in the marketplace and from its location and compared with the internal growths we document above, I did not see an obvious connection between the fungus and the problem under discussion.

Typically I find species of Aspergillus sp. or sometimes Penicillium sp. in these white mould deposits and on occasion one finds one of the mildews present. For example

And under the microscope we see the fibrous growth and no obvious fungal material in the papaya flesh.

It is possible that these white growths inside of the papaya are related to a different, viviparous phenomenon that is itself caused by germinated or pre-germinated seeds inside the fruit, but to be clear, usually such growths appear not throughout the flesh of the fruit (as in our photos above) buy rather as a large, hard white blob or growth inside the center of the fruit (not shown here).

Note: reviewing lists of diseases of papaya we did not find a description that included white streaks or striations within the fruit of the papaya itself.

The only papaya disease involving the term “streaks” was of “streaks of an oily appearance” along the main stem of papaya plants describe by Hine, Gonsalves and others, in discussion of payaya ringspot disease a viral infection that does not appear related to the white streaks or striations shown on this page. (Hine 1965)

The first symptoms are the appearance of oily streaks on the younger leaves and the younger leaves show clearing along the veins that gives an appearance of flecks.

These early symptoms are used to detect infected plants when rogueing is used for managing the disease. – (Gonsalves 2010)

White Fibrous Papaya Growth / Streaks / Veins: Diagnosis & Comments

Thanks for your query regarding the flesh disorder of papaya which was forwarded to our pathology group in North Queensland, Australia.

The group has seen and is not aware of similar symptoms occurring in Australian produced fruit.

After looking at all the images we agree with Daniel that the disorder is not related to any disease.

It appears that something has affected the laticifers (latex ducts) or the vascular material resulting in an aberration of the tissue.

It is difficult to determine the actual cause without having knowledge of the growing conditions, variety, field and postharvest treatments, incidence and severity (eg. one fruit on one plant).

One way to determine if it is specifically the laticifers that are affected would be touch the surface of freshly cut fruit and feel if it is sticky. – Kathy Grice, Senior Experimentalist, Horticulture and Forestry Science, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mareeba, Queensland Australia [by private email] 2016/06/22

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List of Diseases of the Papaya Plant & Fruit

List of Common Diseases of Papaya

Ilustrations above and below: Hawaiian payaya infected with Phytophtora parasitica, a fungal disease, discussed by Hine et als in Diseases of Papaya, cited below. The first photo is of Phytophtora parasitica on papaya in the field and the second is a payaya infected with Phytophtora parasitica after having been inoculated in the lab.

[Click to enlarge any image]

We include these payaya fungal infection photos to help distinguish between the white streaky striations found in the papaya fruit discussed above on this page from common payaya diseases.

Various authors including Hine cite the predominant diseases infecting papaya (Carica payaya L.) to include the following conditions. These are discussed by the authors cited below, beginning with Hine (1965).

Non-Parasitic Diseases of Papayas

  • Over-watering or water-saturated soil exposure for 24-hours or more
  • Nutritional diseases such as nitrogen deficiency
  • Defective plants, females, lacking stamens, don’t produce fruit

Parasitic Diseases of Papayas

Virus Diseases of Payaya
  • Papaya Mosaic
  • Papaya Ringspot
Fungus Diseases of Payaya
  • Anthracnose (Colletotrichum gleosporoides) – a fungal disease, anthracnose lesions appearing as black, brown, or tan spots on the surface of the papaya fruit. Also called charcoal spot on papaya.
  • Black rot of Papaya (Mycosphaerella caricae) – a fungal disease resuting in large sunken areas on the exterior of the fruit, typically caused by airborne fungi entering an wound on the fruit.
  • Black Spot (Asperisporium caricae) of Papaya – appearing over large areas of the papaya skin as small black dots or spots within a larger white area on the fruit.
  • Black Spot (Cercospora papayae) – appearing as many little black spots spread out over most of the skin of the papaya, not within a larger white area.
  • Dry Rot and Stem-end Rot
  • Internal Blight
  • Oomycetes (water molds) Phytophthora palmivora causing stem rot and whitening of the fruit followed by rot.
  • Phytophthora Blight – shown in the photo (Hines 1965)
  • Powdery Mildew (Oidium caricae-papayae) white growth on the leaves of the plant, possibly also appearing on the surface of the fruit. [Illustrated below]

Above: Oidium sp. is one of the most common appearances of the sub-group of molds in the mildew family. Discussed

  • Replant Problem
  • Rhizopus Fruit Rot
Nematode Diseases of Papaya
  • Root-knot Nematode
  • Reniform Nematode
Bacterial & Viral Diseases of Papaya
  • Bacterial infection (Erwinia spp. or possibly Rickettsia spp.) of wounds or lesions on the papaya, possibly transmitted by aphids attacking the fruit.
  • Papaya ringspot virus (Potyvirus PRSV) appearing on the plant leaves and possibly showing up as small lumpy spots and dark green rings on the yellow-green surface of the papaya fruit.
Papaya Damage from Insect Pests
  • Papaya mealybugs (Paracoccus marginatus) produce a white cottony deposit on the leaves and fruit of the Papaya
Papaya Diseases of Unknown Cause
  • Freckles
  • Lumpy Fruit

Research References on Payaya Diseases

Illustration: a photograph of healthy flesh and seeds of a payaya – Plantvillage (2020) cited in detail below.

    Abreu, Paolla, Tathiana FS Antunes, Anuar Magaña-Álvarez, Daisy Pérez-Brito, Raúl Tapia-Tussell, José A. Ventura, Antonio AR Fernandes, and Patricia Fernandes. A current overview of the PAPAYA MELEIRA VIRUS, an unusual plant virus [PDF] Viruses 7, no. 4 (2015): 1853-1870. Retrieved 2020/05/20 original source: https://biblioteca.incaper.es.gov.br/digital/bitstream/item/748/1/CurrentOverviewofthePapayameleiravirusVentura.pdf
    Abstract excerpt:

Papaya meleira virus (PMeV) is the causal agent of papaya sticky disease, which is characterized by a spontaneous exudation of fluid and aqueous latex from the papaya fruit and leaves. T

The latex oxidizes after atmospheric exposure, resulting in a sticky feature on the fruit from which the name of the disease originates.

Abstract excerpt:
The term papaya ringspot (PRS) was first coined by Jensen in 1949 to describe a papaya disease in Hawaii.

Previously described diseases such as papaya mosaic (caused by Papaya mosaic virus) and watermelon mosaic (caused by Watermelon mosaic virus­1) were shown recently to be caused by Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV).

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Effectivity of synthetic pesticides is only short-term which cannot compel for its undesirable impacts. Researches investigating plant potentials as an alternate pesticide for pest control were suggested as a promising solution without sacrificing the environment and its components.

Carica papaya L. latex is known to contain a lot of phytochemicals including papain, a cysteine proteinase thought to effectively involved in plant defense against herviborous insects, mollusc, fungi and other farm pests.

Excerpt: Diseases are the most important limiting production problems of papaya. Although the plant is classified botanically as perennial, virus diseases have reduced the effective crop life to 1-2 years. This fact sheet describes the symptoms of several important Florida papaya diseases and recommendations for control.

Options for the control of root rot of papaya caused by Phytophthora palmivora were evaluated in a field experiment in northerly parts of Queensland, Australia. In the experiment, growing papaya on 0.75 m mounds reduced the incidence of root rot by 38.4% and significantly increased fruit yield.

Soil covers of 2 m wide plastic mulch and organic mulch, in combination with 0.75 m mounds, further reduced plant losses by 20 and 10%, respectively.

Reader Comments & Q&A

On 2020-05-20 – by (mod) – white veins in papaya not actual “plant disease”

Gracias por el foto y su comentario.

I also live in Mexico and have opened a papaya to find the same white striations – though not often.

I don’t think it’s an insect nor a plant disease but rather a growth abnormality, because having reviewed quite a few articles on payapa “disease” I have not found a photo nor descriptions of quite what you and I are seeing in these Mexican papayas; I agree that the papaya taste was the same.

[Click to enlarge any image]

I just found the fruit so unappealing that I threw it out. I’m researching further to see if I can put a name to this symptom and will post that here.

As we wrote above,

It appears that something has affected the laticifers (latex ducts) or the vascular material resulting in an aberration of the tissue.

It is difficult to determine the actual cause without having knowledge of the growing conditions, variety, field and postharvest treatments, incidence and severity (eg. one fruit on one plant).

My request to a papaya expert in Austraila expressed that view, as you’ll see in the article above.

On 2020-05-20 by Melissa Saravia

I live in Mexico and yesterday I opened a papaya that had this exact characteristic. [photo above]

I did not find the taste was different, I did not find any insects, thinking it could make those burrows.

On 2018-04-03 – by (mod) – white streaks in papaya ok to eat?

Thanks for asking, Bree.

In the papaya disease article above I quoted from experts who agreed that the white streaks are not associated with any disease.

They were, of course referring to plant disease. It’s reasonable to infer that if the streaky papaya is not suffering a plant disease it’s also not a health hazard.

I would prefer not to eat Papaya that has a lot of those white streaks because it’s its texture not so nice as its sisters, but on researching I have not found any expert who claimed that there was any health hazard.

On 2018-04-03 – by (mod) – streaky papaya problem – ok to eat

Thanks for asking, Bree.

In the papaya disease article above I quoted from experts who agreed that the white streaks are not associated with any disease. They were, of course referring to plant disease. It’s reasonable to infer that if the streaky papaya is not suffering a plant disease it’s also not a health hazard.

On 2018-04-03 by Bree

Sorry, maybe I’m stupid or blind but I don’t see where the answer is. Is a papaya with these white spots/streaks ok to eat?

I opened one today with these white spots. It smells good and seems normal besides the white spots. Just wondering if its safe to eat or if I should throw it away.

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Technical Reviewers & References

  • Adkins and Adkins Dictionary of Roman Religion discusses Robigus, the Roman god of crop protection and the legendary progenitor of wheat rust fungus.
  • Kansas State University, department of plant pathology, extension plant pathology web page on wheat rust fungus: see http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/path-ext/factSheets/Wheat/Wheat%20Leaf%20Rust.asp
  • US EPA – Una Breva Guia a Moho – Hongo

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Gardening FAQ

What is the white mass i found inside my papaya fruit?

It is hard, white and much larger than a seed.


The papaya plant is dioecious, which means that some trees are male, some are female, and in the papaya’s case, some others are hermaphroditic. Only the females and the hermaphrodites can bear fruit. The reproductive process in many plants is subject to unusual events.

Unlike the male papaya flowers, the female and hermaphroditic papaya flowers are not particularly showy, but they have an ovule that can grow into a large fruit filled with seeds that are capable of creating new plants.

Depending upon the size and shape of the mass, you may be seeing what is called a viviparous phenomenon in your papaya , that is to say, germinated or pre-germinated seeds within the papaya that are forming fruit or related developmental structures. They usually appear as an unexpectedly large, white, rounded nugget inside the papaya when you cut it in half. There is some thought that this is most likely to occur in areas of high humidity.

In India, there has been some observation of increased vivipary and seed disorders in papaya crops but the increased occurrence has not yet been scientifically explained.