Papaya plants grow in tropical environments and produce large fruits with orange flesh and many small black seeds in the center. A mature papaya plant produces between 60 and 80 lbs. of fruit per year, according to professor and tropical fruit crop specialist Jonathan H. Crane of the University of Florida.
Papaya plants grow quickly and can begin flowering within four to six months. Plants can produce fruit as early as seven months after planting, although some plants may not produce fruit until they are about one year old.
Because papaya plants are susceptible to many types of disease, they frequently do not reach their maximum life expectancy of 20 years. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers, papaya plants typically need to be replaced about every four years due to disease.
Male papaya plants do not produce fruit, but they are necessary for pollination of the female fruiting plants. Male plants can be identified by their small yellow flowers. Because only one male plant is needed to pollinate about 10 female plants, growers should cut down the rest. An alternate solution is to grow self-pollinating bisexual papaya plants.