One of my papaya trees has contracted this strange condition where the leaves are curling up into weird shapes.

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I have many papaya trees, and this is the only one that is like this. I have watered this (and the other trees) with plenty of water. I have used compost soil and cow dung to fertilize them. It gets a fair amount of sunshine.

What is wrong with this tree? Is there anything I can do?

  • Using cow poo is not a good thing for potted plants. Way too high in nitrogen if you ever want Papaya fruits. Was your cow poo DECOMPOSED, aged? This looks like a virus of some sort perhaps transferred via cow poo or... I am wondering if Papaya is sensitive to mosaic virus caused by passing on latent virus from tobacco. Do you smoke? This is just an idea..
    – stormy
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 20:43
  • @stormy First of all, these are not potted. They are in a fairly deep and large flowerbed. The cow dung was old and dried. But it's been several months since I've used it, and the ailment showed itself only recently. I don't smoke.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 20:47
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    Hey, great information! This is very unusual to see. Let us see what some of these other plant geniuses come up with. I grew up with papaya but never got to actually grow them. Is there anything at all that you've added or changed recently? Have you always grown papaya close together? Sometimes plants produce toxins to get rid of competitors to include their own offspring. Just an idea. Cow dung old and dried is fine for garden soils!!
    – stormy
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:03
  • @stormy Oh, that's interesting, maybe they are too close together. I've only been growing them for two years, so I'm quite inexperienced. I can't think of anything that I've changed lately.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:08
  • @stormy I just measured the distance, there's around 5 feet from this papaya to the closest neighbor.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:12

2 Answers 2


Fiksdal...sigh, take a look at this article...my goodness it is right on with the pictures of your leaves. I am sorry...curling leaves of papaya

  • Wow, this looks too bad. Maybe I'll have to uproot. I just emailed the academic who wrote that paper, linking him to this question.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:34
  • Please let us know what he says!! Especially how to protect your other papayas from this virus. Isn't this great to be able to actually write emails to the expert experts?
    – stormy
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:38
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    Yes, I'll certainly share any answer he gives here (if he allows it.) He may even post here himself.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:45
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    "...Especially how to protect your other papayas from this virus...." If it's similar to tomato leaf curl virus, you dig up the plant and burn it. DO IT NOW - not tomorrow. It may have nothing to do with the soil - it can be transmitted by aphids. Check the plants for whitefly, and if you find them don't play around with "organic" control methods - just zap them with the most effective stuff you can buy. Otherwise, you may lose all your plants within a few weeks.
    – alephzero
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:32
  • He is right. I wouldn't burn the poor thing. Just bury it somewhere safe. The virus is already there anyhoo.
    – stormy
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 1:39

Found this article...check this out and let me know what you think. I am thinking you need to jerk that plant out if it does have virus, root rot. Interesting stuff...I think my intuitions were right but now I just gotta know more about papaya. papaya culture

  • Yes, there are many useful clues in this article. It's possible that I've been overwatering.
    – Fiksdal
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 21:17

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