Central America, South America, w Africa, tropical regions, introduced pantropically.
Genera 6, species ca. 30 (1 in the flora).
Caricaceae consists mainly of soft-wood trees containing little secondary xylem. Any “wood” present is usually produced from phloem. Economically, the most important plant is Carica papaya, the source of papaya fruit. The fruits of Jarilla Rusby and Jacaratia A. de Candolle are locally grown and eaten in Mexico. Papaya has great variation in the inflorescence, especially in the pistillate flowers, probably as a result of being under extensive cultivation.
Caricaceae may be related to Passifloraceae, or to Cucurbitaceae.