This week we had a record harvest of fruit on the pawpaw trees growing along the trails. We ended up with 17 pounds, 4 times our average year. Many of the biggest ones were hanging in clusters. We go after them with a long pole with a hook on the end, pulling down all we see. We have learned that when you think you have reached all of them on the tree, give it a good shaking and more unseen fruit is likely to come raining down on your head.
Pawpaws have a tight green skin, firm until they ripen, then soft, squishy and full of the sweet odor of a over ripe banana. Inside, there is a pale custard-like pulp with several brown seeds. Fortunately those characteristics make some people dislike them which means more for us. The pulp makes wonderful pawpaw pudding, the consistency of a moist cake. It also can be used for pawpaw bread or served on top of ice cream.
The pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba) is much more important for wildlife. Their fruits are popular with squirrels, raccoons, and bears. In season we see bear scat filled with seeds, the pawpaw tree's method of transporting its offspring out of the neighborhood.
|Pawpaw flowers, fresh, dead and frost damaged - REK|
|Bud ready to flower|
Pawpaw also reproduce by suckers, roots extending out to establish trees nearby in an expanding community. Left alone they could cover a large area but as a forest matures over years around them, their expansion is controlled.
|Pawpaw flowers in full bloom - REK|
|Zebra swallowtail - Chris Barnhart|
|Zebra swallowtail egg already perched on the first unfolding leaf of the year! REK|
|Megan McCarthy CC|
*Further information on pawpaw odors is in this paper.
Previous pawpaw blogs have covered zebra swallowtail eggs, the butterfly's premature delivery and the Asimina webworm moth that lives curled up in pawpaw leaves.