Trees relatively short-lived. Leaves crowded distally on branches; glabrous. Inflorescences: staminate 100+-flowered, elongate; pistillate 1-several-flowered. Flowers each borne in axil of bract. Berries slightly 5-angled. x = 9. Species, in the traditional sense, ca. 20 (1 in the flora): introduced, Florida; Central America, South America; introduced also pantropically.
V. M. Badillo (2000) considered Carica to consist of only one species (C. papaya), others being reassigned to the genus Vasconcellea A. Saint-Hilaire.
Some species of Carica in the traditional sense are grown for their edible fruits or sweet and juicy seed coverings (arils), the most important being C. papaya.