General: Custard-apple or Annona family (Annonaceae). This perennial tree or shrub grows from 3 to 12 m tall. The drooping, pear-shaped leaves are alternate, from 10 to 30 cm long, with smooth margins and pointed tips. The leaves are coated with fine whitish hairs on the upper surface with rusty-colored hairs on the under-side. Leaves are aromatic, with a smell reminiscent of bell pepper. Inconspicuous but interesting flowers (4 to 5cm in diameter) with 3 sepals, are green upon opening and turn to dark purple or maroon in color. From 1 to 4 flowers grow in the leaf axils before leafing, usually in April or May. The six velvety petals (2cm-2.5cm long) are stiff and curl slightly backwards. Yellowish green to brown, cylindrical, mango-shaped fruits are 7-16 cm long and grow solitarily or 2 to 4 together. The large fruits (5 to 16 ounces) ripen between August and October. Fruits have a thin skin, which contain a yellow custard-like pulp that is said to taste like papaya. Some varieties contain a whitish-green pulp that is less flavorful. Fruits contain several flat 2cm long seeds. The deciduous leaves turn bright yellow before dropping in the fall.
Similar species: A. parivflora, is called the “dwarf pawpaw” or “possum-simmon.” A. tetramera, commonly known as ‘opossum pawpaw’, is a rare and endangered species from southern Florida. Other similar species include A. incarna, A. longifolia, A. obovata, A. pygmaea, A. reticulata, A. X nashii.
Distribution: This plant grows over much of Eastern North America from Ontario and Michigan south to Florida and Texas. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
False banana, pawpaw apple, custard apple, custard banana, poor man’s banana, banana tree, Indiana banana, Nebraska banana, Hoosier banana, Michigan banana, white plum.
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Eastern North America, from central and western New York (Young pers. comm.) and Ontario west to Wisconsin (USDA-NRCS 1999), southern Iowa (Pearson pers. comm.), eastern Kansas (Freeman pers. comm.) and Nebraska (Kartesz 1999); south to Texas, Louisiana and Florida; east to the Carolinas (USDA-NRCS 1999).
range extends from western New York west across southwestern Ontario to
Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa; south to eastern Nebraska, eastern
Oklahoma, and eastern Texas; east to the Appalachian Mountains and the
Florida panhandle [15,21,28,31].
Occurrence in North America
MD MI MS MO NE NY NC OH OK PA
SC TN TX VA WV ON
Pawpaws grow in humid climates and are highly frost tolerant. They grow in the shade in open woods usually in wet, fertile bottomlands, but can grow in upland areas on rich soils. Pawpaws occur as understory trees in oak-hickory forest in the mid-south where they are found in clusters or thickets. They do not do well in coastal environments. The plants purportedly may do well in the Pacific Northwest and parts of California. Growth trials are being conducted at Oregon State University.
Pawpaw is a native, deciduous, large shrub or small tree. It exhibits
clonal growth, forming thickets or small colonies [15,27]. It grows
from 20 to 40 feet (6-12 m) tall [2,16,31]. There is usually a single
trunk . The bark is thin with shallow, irregular fissures .
Young twigs are hairy . Pawpaw leaves can be up to 1 foot (30 cm)
long, and are odorous when bruised . The fruit is a large berry
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Comments: This species is found in rich, mesic alluvial or floodplain forests, bottomlands and on wooded slopes near streams (Kauffman pers. comm., Rock pers. comm., Schotz pers. comm., Schafale pers. comm., Freeman pers. comm.). In the southeast coastal plain and piedmont, it is known to occur in brownwater levee forests in the coastal plain, piedmont bottomlands, piedmont basic mesic forests, and rich cove forests (Schafale pers. comm.).
Pawpaw is found in deciduous forests, on slopes of ravines, along
streams, and floodplains. Soils on which it occurs are usually deep,
rich, damp, sandy, or clayey [15,28,36].
Common tree associates include blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica), Ohio buckeye
(Aesculus glabra), honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthus), and coffee tree
(Gymnocladus dioica) [3,9].
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the terms: hardwood, swamp
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
39 Black ash - American elm - red maple
42 Bur oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
58 Yellow-poplar - eastern hemlock
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
61 River birch - sycamore
62 Silver maple - American elm
64 Sassafras - persimmon
65 Pin oak - sweetgum
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
78 Virginia pine - oak
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
87 Sweetgum - yellow-poplar
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum - willow oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
94 Sycamore - sweetgum - American elm
108 Red maple
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K089 Black Belt
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
The appearance of this tree gives a tropical flavor to temperate gardens and provides edible landscaping. Pawpaws can serve as a screen or can be grown in a container as a specimen tree. Both trees and shrubs have a conical pyramid-like shape when grown in sun, and a more open structure if grown in shade. They can be planted in the shade of tall, open trees or in partial shade, although they fruit best in sun. If planting in open sun, provide a shading structure to allow filtered sun for the first few years. The plants prefer moist, slightly acidic soils and require regular watering, but are adaptable to many conditions. They do not perform well in poorly drained soils and need protection from the wind. At least two plants are needed for cross-pollination.
Seeds: Seeds can be sown in the fall to over-winter or can be stratified by exposing to cold temperature (32-40 degrees) for 90 to 120 days. Seed should never be allowed to dry out. If sowing seeds into containers use deep pots or tubes to allow for healthy roots.
Transplanting seedlings: Transplant seedlings in the spring. Larger plants do not transplant well. The roots are widely spreading, so purchase plants that have been grown in deep pots or tubes to insure healthy plants. The roots are brittle, so use care when transferring from containers. Water the transplants frequently during the growing season.
Vegetative propagation: Pawpaws can be propagated by whip-and–tongue, bark inlay, cleft graft, or chip budding techniques.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Pawpaw in Illinois
(Flies suck nectar from the flowers; observations are from Robertson)
Syrphidae: Eupeodes americanus sn; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax sn, Ravinia derelicta sn, Sarcophaga sinuata sn; Calliphoridae: Cynomya cadaverina sn fq, Phormia regina sn; Anthomyiidae: Delia platura sn; Scathophagidae: Scathophaga furcata sn
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Several thousand populations are likely extant rangewide. Alabama: hundreds; Indiana: thousands; Kansas: >100; Maryland: hundreds; North Carolina: 50-75+ (Kauffman pers. comm.); Nebraska: 25-50+; New York: 16; South Carolina: thousands; Tennessee: 73+ (Brumback and Mehrhoff 1996, APSU 1999).
Since this is such a common species throughout much of its range, these numbers can only be estimates. Additional information on species distribution and the number of populations can be gleaned from county occurrence dot maps (USDA-NRCS 1999).
Fruiting in this species appears to be rather intermittent and infrequent (Schafale pers. comm., Rock pers. comm., Pittman pers. comm., Penskar pers. comm.); occasionally abundant fruit are produced in parts of its range (Kunsman pers. comm.). Fruit production may be more abundant and frequent in the northern portion of its range (Kauffman pers. comm., Schotz pers. comm., Pittman pers. comm.). Feral hogs are known to consume the fruits of pawpaw (Pittman pers. comm.).
Plant Response to Fire
Pawpaw cover is probably reduced by fire. In a study to determine the
effects of repeated prescribed fires on vegetation in the
prairie-woodland transition zone, fires were conducted for 3 consecutive
years. The vegetation was monitored for almost 20 years after the last
fire was conducted. Pawpaw stems increased in number only in the
absence of fire, and only after 13 years had passed since the last fire .
Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed
Pawpaw is probably able to survive top-kill by fire due to its ability
to produce root sprouts.
of pawpaw regeneration . Rogstad and others  reported a
relatively high level of genetic variation among populations, but
moderate or no variation within populations. This was attributed to the
formation of clonal thickets and/or inbreeding in small populations .
Pawpaw reproduces sexually, however, the rate of fruit set is very low
(0.45 percent) compared to the number of flowers produced . It is
pollinated by flies or nitidulid beetles [22,32,33]. It
self-pollinates, but outcrossing is more common . Germination of
pawpaw seeds is slow, probably due to embryo dormancy .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Facultative Seral Species
Pawpaw is tolerant of shade, but appears to die out in old-growth
forests. In southwestern Pennsylvania, moderate numbers of pawpaw
seedlings and saplings were found in mature second-growth forests, but
none were found in undisturbed, old-growth forests .
From a compilation of historical records and current data on its
distribution, Campbell  concluded that pawpaw is suited to regimes of
moderate disturbance. Pawpaw is a good competitor when undisturbed for
a period of time, but does not spread into either early- or
late-successional forest types .
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Asimina triloba
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3 - Vulnerable
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species is has a very broad range in eastern North America and is frequently encountered in a wide variety of wooded habitats across its range. At present, collection pressure does not seem to be a major concern, however as with most plants of potential commercial value, future changes in the market may put increased pressure on this species unless cultivation is pursued.
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Comments: There is indirect evidence from West Virginia and Tennessee, obtained from reliable sources, that collecting occurs from wild populations for the plant trade. Typically the fruits are collected and sold at local markets, either fresh or as preserves (Blakley pers. comm., Suggs pers. comm., Kauffman pers. comm., Hardy pers. comm., Freeman pers. comm.). Collection of material for the medicinal trade is apparently not common, though there exists a potential market for this species in the near future due to purported anti-cancer properties (Suggs pers. comm.). In Tennessee, this plant is collected from the wild and sold as nursery stock (Warren Co. Nursery).
A person knowledgable about the herbal medicinal trade says that the plant is not in commerce for medicinal purposes (M. McGuffin pers. comm.).
Habitat conversion and urban/rural development are significant direct threats (Homoya pers. comm., Pittman pers. comm., Young pers. comm., Schotz pers. comm., Freeman pers. comm., Steinauer pers. comm., Kunsman pers. comm.). Equally significant threats include habitat fragmentation and displacement by exotic species (Homoya pers. comm., Penskar pers. comm., Frye pers. comm., Steinauer pers. comm.).
need to be treated to suppress pawpaw, since it may outcompete valued
timber species . Pawpaw creates heavy shade that reduces seedling
recruitment of white oak (Quercus alba) and shagbark hickory (Carya
ovata) [24,26]. In southwestern Illinois, an increase in pawpaw cover
was attributed to defoliation of overstory trees by the linden looper.
The pawpaw canopy suppressed seedling establishment of less tolerant
species. An increase in shade-tolerant species such as sugar maple
(Acer saccharum) is now occurring [24,26].
In Ohio, pawpaw did not occur on study plots until the fourth growing
season following clearcutting .
Pawpaw leaves are not preferred by the gypsy moth .
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
‘Davis’ is commercially cultivated for fruit; ‘Sunflower,’ ‘Mary Foos Johnson,’ ‘Taylor,’ Overleese,’ ‘Sweet Alice,’ are popular cultivars. A. parviflora is a dwarf variety of pawpaw. These plant materials are somewhat available from commercial sources.
This plant spreads quickly by suckers to form a “pawpaw patch.” Remove suckers as they form if a tree form is desired. Sucker formation slows as the tree develops. Other than control of suckers, the plants do not require pruning. The plants are disease and pest resistant and they are not browsed by deer.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG
Production Methods: Cultivated, Wild-harvested
Comments: There exists a potential market for this species in the near future due to purported anti-cancer properties and as an insecticide (Suggs pers. comm.).
Prices for this species were found as follows:
Central Tennessee, nursery: $1.25/12" sapling (collected from wild and sold in bundles of 50)
Other uses and values
cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals . The fruits can
be eaten raw, cooked in puddings or breads, or used to make ice cream
. It is planted for fruit production and as an ornamental .
An anticancer drug has been purified from pawpaw, and is being tested .
The seeds contain an alkaloid, asiminine, which is reported to have
emetic properties. The bark also contains an alkaloid, analobine, and
was once used as a medicine .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
raccoons, gray foxes, opossums, squirrels, and black bears [6,8,16,31].
White-tailed deer browse pawpaw; beavers consume the bark .
Wood Products Value
Ethnobotanic: Some Native American tribes cultivated the pawpaw for fruit and are responsible for its widespread range today. The Cherokee and many other tribes used the pawpaw fruit for food. The fruit, which is the largest edible fruit native to America, is high in amino acids. The Iroquois used the mashed fruit to make small cakes that were dried and stored. The dried cakes were soaked in water and cooked to make a sauce or relish that was served with corn bread. Raw and cooked fruits were dried by the sun or on a fire. These were stored for use in the future or taken on hunts. The Cherokee used the inner bark to make cordage. By twisting the bark, they made string and strong ropes.
Other: The twigs and leaves contain extracts that have insecticidal properties. The leaves contain anti-carcinogens.
Wildlife: Opossum, raccoon, foxes and squirrels eat the fruits. Larvae of the lovely Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus) feed exclusively on the leaves.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)|
Asimina triloba, the pawpaw, paw paw, paw-paw, or common pawpaw, is a species of Asimina (the pawpaw genus) in the same plant family (the Annonaceae) as the custard-apple, cherimoya, sweetsop, ylang-ylang and soursop. The pawpaw is native to the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States and adjacent southernmost Ontario, Canada, from New York west to southeastern Nebraska, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. The pawpaw is a patch-forming (clonal) understory tree found in well-drained, deep, fertile bottom-land and hilly upland habitat, with large, simple leaves and large fruits. The paw paw is the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States.
- 1 Names
- 2 Description
- 3 Ecology
- 4 Biochemistry
- 5 Conservation status
- 6 History
- 7 Uses
- 8 Cultural significance
- 9 References
- 10 External links
This plant's scientific name is Asimina triloba. The genus name Asimina is adapted from the Native American (probably Miami-Illinois) name assimin or rassimin through the French colonial asiminier. The epithet triloba in the species' scientific name refers to the flowers' three-lobed calices and doubly three-lobed corollas, the shape not unlike a tricorne hat.
The common name of this species is variously spelled pawpaw, paw paw, paw-paw, and papaw. It probably derives from the Spanish papaya, an American tropical fruit (Carica papaya) sometimes also called "papaw", perhaps because of the superficial similarity of their fruits. Asimina triloba has had numerous local common names including: wild banana, prairie banana, Indiana banana, Hoosier banana, West Virginia banana, Kansas banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Missouri banana, the poor man’s banana, Ozark banana, and banango.
Asimina triloba is a large shrub or small tree growing to a height of 35 feet (11 m) (rarely to 45 feet or 14 m) with a trunks 8-12 inches (20–30 cm) or more in diameter. The large leaves of pawpaw trees are clustered symmetrically at the ends of the branches, giving a distinctive imbricated appearance to the tree's foliage.
The leaves of the species are simple, alternate and spirally arranged, entire, deciduous, obovate-lanceolate, 10-12 inches (25–30 cm) long, 4-5 inches (10–13 cm) broad, and wedge-shaped at the base, with an acute apex and an entire margin, with the midrib and primary veins prominent. The petioles are short and stout, with a prominent adaxial groove. Stipules are lacking. The expanding leaves are conduplicate, green, covered with rusty tomentum beneath, and hairy above; when fully grown they are smooth, dark green above, and paler beneath. When bruised, the leaves have a disagreeable odor similar to a green bell pepper. In autumn the leaves are a rusty yellow, which make spotting pawpaw groves possible from a long distance.
Pawpaw flowers are perfect, about 1-2 inches (3–5 cm) across, rich red-purple or maroon when mature, with three sepals and six petals. They are borne singly on stout, hairy, axillary peduncles. The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as or slightly before the new leaves appear, and have a faint fetid or yeasty smell.
The fruit of the pawpaw is a large, yellowish-green to brown berry, 2–6 in (5–16 cm) long and 1–3 in (3–7 cm) broad, weighing from 0.7–18 oz (20–500 g), containing several brown seeds 1/2 to 1 in (15–25 mm) in diameter embedded in the soft, edible fruit pulp. The conspicuous fruits begin developing after the plants flower; they are initially green, maturing by September or October to yellow or brown. When mature, the heavy fruits bend the weak branches down.
- Calyx: Sepals three, valvate in bud, ovate, acuminate, pale green, downy.
- Corolla: Petals six, in two rows, imbricate in the bud. Inner row acute, erect, nectariferous. Outer row broadly ovate, reflexed at maturity. Petals at first are green, then brown, and finally become dull purple or maroon and conspicuously veiny.
- Stamens: Indefinite, densely packed on the globular receptacle. Filaments short; anthers extrorse, two-celled, opening longitudinally.
- Pistils: Several, on the summit of the receptacle, projecting from the mass of stamens. Ovary one-celled; stigma sessile; ovules many.
- Branchlets: light brown, tinged with red, marked by shallow grooves.
- Winter buds: Small, of two kinds, the leaf buds pointed and closely appressed to the twigs, and the flower buds round, brown, and fuzzy.
- Bark: Light gray, sometimes blotched with lighter gray spots, sometimes covered with small excrescences, divided by shallow fissures. Inner bark tough, fibrous. The bark with a very disagreeable odor when bruised.
- Wood: Pale, greenish yellow, sapwood lighter; light, soft, coarse-grained and spongy. Sp. gr., 0.3969; weight of cu ft 24.74 lb.
Asimina triloba, the pawpaw, commonly grows in floodplains and shady, rich bottomlands, where it often forms a dense, clonally spreading undergrowth in the forest, often appearing as a patch or thicket of individual small slender trees. Pawpaws are not the first to colonize a disturbed site (arriving roughly four years after a clearcut), but may become dominant and slow the establishment of oaks and hickories. Although shade-tolerant, pawpaws do not persist in undisturbed old growth forest. Pawpaws spread locally primarily by root suckers; sexual reproduction by seed does also occur, but at a fairly low rate.
Pawpaw flowers are insect-pollinated, but fruit production is sometimes limited as few if any pollinators are attracted to the flower's faint, or sometimes non-existent scent. The flowers produce an odor similar to that of rotting meat to attract blowflies or carrion beetles for cross pollination. Other insects that are attracted to pawpaw flowers include scavenging fruit flies, carrion flies and beetles. Because of irregular fruit production, some believe pawpaw plants are self-incompatible, requiring cross-pollination between trees of different clones (patches).
The disagreeable-smelling leaves, twigs, and bark of pawpaws contain natural insecticides known as acetogenins. Pawpaw leaves and twigs are seldom consumed by rabbits, deer, or goats, or by many insects. However, mules have been seen eating pawpaw leaves in Maryland.
Larvae of the zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), a butterfly, feed exclusively on young leaves of Asimina triloba and various other pawpaw (Asimina) species, but never occur in great numbers on the plants. Chemicals in the pawpaw leaves confer protection from predation throughout the butterfly's life, as trace amounts of acetogenins remain present, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators.
The seeds have been shown to contain the chemicals asimitrin (an adjacent ring-hydroxylated bis-tetrahydrofuran acetogenin) and 4-hydroxytrilobin (an adjacent bis-THF ring with two flanking hydroxyl groups and an α,β-unsaturated γ-lactone with a 4-hydroxyl group). These chemicals seem to have selective cytotoxicity against prostate adenocarcinoma (PC-3) and colon adenocarcinoma (HT-29) cell lines, thus may become a useful chemotherapeutic chemical for these types of cancer.
The leaves also contain toxic annonaceous acetogenins, making them impalatable to most insects. The one notable exception is the zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus), whose larvae feed on the leaves of various species of Asimina, conferring protection from predation throughout the butterfly's life, as trace amounts of acetogenins remain present, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators.
The bark of pawpaw trees contains other acetogenins, including asimin, asiminacin and asiminecin, which have been shown to be potent inhibitors of mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase, making A. triloba a promising source of pesticide and anti-tumour compounds.
On a global (range-wide) scale, the common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) has a NatureServe global conservation rank of G5 (Very Common).
In Canada, where the species is found only in portions of southern Ontario, it has a NatureServe national conservation rank of N3 (Vulnerable), and a NatureServe subnational conservation rank of S3 (Vulnerable) in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has given the species a general status of "Sensitive", and its populations there are monitored.
A strong candidate for the natural distribution of the common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) in North America, prior to the Ice Ages and lasting until roughly 10,000 years ago, was likely the then extant but now extinct megafauna of North America. (Such animals went extinct during the Quaternary extinction event.) With the arrival of humans, and the extinction of such megafauna for distributing Asimina triloba, the likely candidate for distributing these large fruit bearing plants likely became the newly arrived humans. The earliest documented mention of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the Spanish de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River.
As described by horticulturist Barbara Damrosch, the fruit of the pawpaw "looks a bit like mango, but with pale yellow, custardy, spoonable flesh and black, easy-to-remove seeds." Wild-collected pawpaw fruits, ripe in late August to mid September, have long been a favorite treat throughout the tree's extensive native range in eastern North America, and on occasion are sold locally at farmers' markets. Pawpaw fruits have a sweet, custardish flavor somewhat similar to banana, mango, and cantaloupe, varying significantly by source or cultivar, with more protein than most fruits. Nineteenth-century American agronomist E. Lewis Sturtevant described pawpaws as
... a natural custard, too luscious for the relish of most people"
Ohio botanist William B. Werthner noted that
The fruit ... has a tangy wild-wood flavor peculiarly its own. It is sweet, yet rather cloying to the taste and a wee bit puckery – only a boy can eat more than one at a time.
Fresh fruits of the pawpaw are commonly eaten raw, either chilled or at room temperature. However, they can be kept only 2–3 days at room temperature, or about a week if refrigerated. The easily bruised pawpaw fruits do not ship well unless frozen. Where pawpaws grow, the fruit pulp is also often used locally in baked dessert recipes, with pawpaw often substituted with volumetric equivalency in many banana-based recipes. Pawpaws may also be blended into ice cream or included in pancakes. Pawpaws are also used for juice-making, as either a fresh pawpaw drink or in drink mixtures (for example, a pawpaw, pineapple, banana, lime, lemon, and orange tea mix). The fruit pulp can also be made into a country wine.
In southern West Virginia, pawpaws are made into a native version of banana nut cake or fruit cake baked inside canning jars, then heat-sealed, reputedly keeping the food for at least a year; however, due to the risk of botulism, preserving cake in a canning jar is not recommended.
In cultivation, lack of successful pollination is the most common cause of poor fruiting. Cross-pollination of at least two different genetic varieties of the plant is recommended, and growers often resort to hand pollination or to use of pollinator attractants such as spraying fish emulsion or hanging chicken necks or other meat near the open flowers to attract pollinators. While pawpaws are larval hosts for the zebra swallowtail butterfly, these caterpillars are usually present only at low density, and not detrimental to the foliage of the trees.
Pawpaws have never been cultivated for their fruits on the scale of apples (Malus domestica) or peaches (Prunus persica), primarily because pawpaw fruits ripen to the point of fermentation soon after they are picked, and only frozen fruit will store or ship well. Other methods of preservation include dehydration, production of jams or jellies, and pressure canning (using the numerical values for bananas).
In recent years, cultivation of pawpaws for fruit production has attracted renewed interest, particularly among organic growers, as a native fruit with few to no pests, successfully grown without pesticides. The commercial cultivation and harvesting of pawpaws is strong in southeastern Ohio and also being explored in Kentucky and Maryland, as well as various areas outside the species' native range, including California, the Pacific Northwest., and Massachusetts
The pawpaw is also gaining in popularity among landscapers and backyard gardeners because of the tree's distinctive growth habit, the appeal of its fresh fruit, and its relatively low maintenance needs once established. However, only container-grown pawpaws should be transplanted; use of bare-rooted pawpaws is not recommended, since their fragile root hairs tend to break off unless a cluster of moist soil is retained on the root mass.
Trees are easily grown from seed. Germination is hypogeal and cotyledons remain within the seed coat. Strictly speaking, hypogeal means the cotyledons stay in the soil, acting as a food store for the seedling until the plumule emerges from the soil on the epicotyl or true stem. However, pawpaw seeds have occasionally been observed to emerge from the ground and form the true stem and plumule above ground (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:First_leaf.jpg). Desirable kinds (cultivars) of pawpaw are propagated by chip budding or whip grafting.
The natural insecticides in the leaves, twigs, and bark of pawpaw trees can be used to make an organic pesticide.
The wood of tree-sized pawpaws is not commercially valuable.
Pawpaws are sometimes included in ecological restoration plantings since this tree grows well in wet soil and has a strong tendency to form well-rooted colonial thickets. The pawpaw is particularly valued for establishing fast-growing vegetation in areas where frequent flooding might produce erosion, since their root systems help hold streambanks steady. Pawpaws grow well even in cold hollows with little exposure to winter sunlight.
Where, oh where is dear little Nellie?Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch
Where, oh where is dear little Nellie?
Where, oh where is dear little Nellie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch
Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket
Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket
Pickin' up pawpaws, puttin' 'em in your pocket
He notes that "picking up pawpaws" refers to gathering the ripe, fallen fruit from beneath the trees, and that the "pocket" in the song is that of an apron or similar tie-on pocket, not a modern pants or blue jeans pocket, into which pawpaws would hardly fit. A "pawpaw patch" refers to the plant's characteristic patch-forming clonal growth habit.
The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is the basis for various place and school names in the United States, almost all using the older spelling variant "paw paw".
- In Louisiana:
- In Michigan:
- Little Paw Paw LakeU.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Paw Paw Lake
- Paw Paw Lake, in Berrien County, the largest and best known Paw Paw Lake
- Paw Paw Lake, in Hillsdale County: U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Paw Paw Lake
- Paw Paw Lake, in Kalamazoo County: U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Paw Paw Lake
- In Missouri:
- Paw-Paw Lake
- In Ohio:
- Paw Paw Lake
- In Texas:
- Lake Paw Paw, in Richmond County
Streams and river segments
- Paw Paw Creek in Texas in Grayson County, a tributary of Lake Texoma on the Red River
- Paw Paw Creek, in West Virginia in Marion and Monongalia Counties, a tributary of the Monongahela River
- Paw Paw River, in Michigan in Berrien and Van Buren Counties, near Lake Michigan
- The Paw Paw Bends in the upper Potomac River near Paw Paw, West Virginia, bypassed by the Paw Paw Tunnel on the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
- Paw Paw, Illinois, in Lee County
- Paw Paw, Michigan, the county seat of Van Buren County, near Lake Michigan
- Paw Paw, West Virginia, in Morgan County, along the Potomac River across from Maryland
- Paw Paw Township, Illinois, in DeKalb County
- Paw Paw Township, Indiana, in Wabash County
- Paw Paw Township, Kansas, in Elk County
- Paw Paw Township, Michigan, in Van Buren County
- Little Paw Paw Lake, Michigan, a populated place in Berien County: U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Paw Paw Lake
- Paw Paw, Kentucky, in Pike County near the Virginia border
- Paw Paw Lake, Michigan, a census-designated place in Berien County, the settlement around Paw Paw Lake
Three US high schools have names based on the pawpaw, due to their location in or near towns named Paw Paw:
- Paw Paw High School (Illinois) – Paw Paw, Illinois
- Paw Paw High School (Michigan) – Paw Paw, Michigan
- Paw Paw High School (West Virginia) – Paw Paw, West Virginia
Nineteenth-century naturalist and painter John James Audubon included pawpaw foliage and fruits in the background of his illustration of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) in his classic work, The Birds of America (1827–1838).
Pawpawsaurus (Pawpaw lizard), a herbivorous Cretaceous dinosaur from the Paw Paw formation in Texas.
The Paw Paw Tunnel in Maryland on the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, a 3118-foot (950-m) canal tunnel completed in 1850 bypassing the six-mile-long Paw Paw Bends in the Potomac River near the town of Paw Paw, West Virginia, all ultimately named after the pawpaw tree.
- Robert Kral (1997). "Annonaceae". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee. Magnoliophyta: Magnoliidae and Hamamelidae. Flora of North America 3. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-511246-7.
- "Pawpaw Description and Nutritional Information". Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
- Chamberlain, Alexander F. (1 December 1902). "Algonkian Words in American English: A Study in the Contact of the White Man and the Indian.". The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 15 (59): 240–267. doi:10.2307/533199. ISSN 0021-8715. JSTOR 533199.
- Werthner, William B. (1935). Some American Trees: An intimate study of native Ohio trees. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. xviii + 398 pp.
- Sargent, Charles Sprague (1933). Manual of the trees of North America (exclusive of Mexico). Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company: The Riverside Press Cambridge. pp. xxvi + 910.
- Harper, Douglas. "papaya". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Harper, Douglas. "papaw". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Keeler, Harriet L. (1900). Our Native Trees and How to Identify Them. New York: Charles Scriber's Sons. pp. 20–23.
- Schronce, Arty. "Arty's Garden". Georgia Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Asimina triloba, Fire Effects Information System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory
-  pawpaw hand pollination
- B. J. Sampson, J. L. McLaughlin, D. E. Wedge. 2003. PawPaw Extract as a Botanical Insecticide, 2002. Arthropod Management Tests, vol.28, p. L.
- "Pawpaw". California Rare Fruit Growers. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- Bilton, Kathy. "Pawpaws: A paw for you and a paw for me". Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- John M. Martin, Stephen R. Madigosky, Zhe-ming Gu, Dawei Zhou, Jinn Wu & Jerry L. McLaughlin (January 1999). "Chemical defense in the zebra swallowtail butterfly, Eurytides marcellus, involving annonaceous acetogenins". Journal of Natural Products 62 (1): 2–4. doi:10.1021/np980308s. PMID 9917274.
- Eun Jung Kim, Kyung Mi Suh, Dal Hwan Kim, Eun Joo Jung, Chang Seob Seo, Jong Keun Son, Mi Hee Woo & Jerry L. McLaughlin (February 2005). "Asimitrin and 4-hydroxytrilobin, new bioactive annonaceous acetogenins from the seeds of Asimina triloba possessing a bis-tetrahydrofuran ring". Journal of Natural Products 68 (2): 194–197. doi:10.1021/np040184l. PMID 15730242.
- Geng-Xian Zhao, Laura R. Miesbauer, David L. Smith & Jerry L. McLaughlin (June 1994). "Asimin, asiminacin, and asiminecin: novel highly cytotoxic asimicin isomers from Asimina triloba". Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 37 (13): 1971–1976. doi:10.1021/jm00039a009. PMID 8027979.
- Connie Barlow. "Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them"., retrieved December 5, 2012.
- Craig Summers Black (February 4, 2009 edition). "America’s forgotten fruit: The native pawpaw tastes like banana and grows close to home.". The Christian Science Monitor. Check date values in:
- Damrosch, Barbara (8 Sep 2011). "Return of the Native? Pawpaws' Proponents". The Washington Post (Local Living, p.9).
- "Paw Paw Tunnel". Town of Paw Paw, West Virginia. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation. "Can I can bread or cake in a jar?". Frequently Asked Canning Questions. Retrieved 15 March 2011.
- "The 15th Annual Ohio Pawpaw Festival". Ohio Pawpaw Festival. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- "Paw Paw Creek". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- "RRHX - Railroad History Time Line - 1860". RRHX: Railroad History of Michigan. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- "IMDb - Paw Paws (TV Series 1985)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
- Ohio Revised Code 5.082
- Ohio Pawpaw Festival
Names and Taxonomy
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