Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paw Paw

Paw paw fruit
After a series of late freezes have destroyed the Paw Paw crop we were excited to see lots of fruit in our Paw Paw grove.  My excitement diminished today as I saw a number of broken branches, evidence that the competition is getting to them before they are ripe.  Squirrel, bear and raccoons are all in line as the summer draws to an end.

Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) is a native tree which produces fruit two to six inches long.   It has the flavor of an over ripe banana and when mature you may smell them before you see them.  It has 1/4" seeds and a custard-like pulp which is good on ice cream, paw paw bread or even eaten raw. 

The small tree is easily identifiable by its distinctive leaves.  They are alternate, single veined and widest close to the tip.  The leaves are among the largest in our forest, ten to twelve inches long, four to five inches wide.  In the early spring, before or just as new leaves are coming out, it produces a distinctive maroon flower.  This early spring blossoming leaves it vulnerable to late frosts.
Paw paw leaves
Paw paw tends to grow in well-drained, fertile bottom-land soil.  How our grove developed up on top of a ridge a mile from the creek remains a mystery.  The density of the 40 trees is more understandable as they grow by suckering of the roots, meaning that they are likely all genetically identical.  The grove is close to a hollow tree that has been a refuge for bears over the years.  They or some other animal may have transferred the seeds in the way a large mammal "moves" big seeds.

Paw paw girls- 2003
It doesn't look like we will have a big harvest like the one in 2003.  I can only show the ones that survived the morning as over half were shoved into mouths as we harvested them.  I suspect this year we will have some really big raccoons and a few bears with green gooey smiles.


  1. There you go, I have seen another nursery school song is true. I have never seen a pawpaw tee or the fruit. This is why I like your blog. So many interesting things to see. Thank you.

  2. The Pawpaw tree evolved when the Mawmaw tree cross-pollinated with the Hawhaw tree during the Jerasic period.

  3. I've never seen nor eaten a pawpaw fruit. But it sure looks delicious to me!