Woody of the Week - Pawpaw

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Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is found throughout the buckeye state and most of the Eastern United States. It grows naturally as an understory tree or along woodland edges, and is often found in areas that are moist.


A single tree can sometimes become a "pawpaw-colony" through root sprouts from the parent plant. The mature height of this tree is 25 feet and the mature spread is 15 feet, when not crowded by other plants. The leaves are rather large giving the plant a tropical feel. 


While the plant is noted for its fruit, the flowers are beautiful but often overlooked in the spring. The dark lavendar to maroon colored petals are so attractive hanging downward on the branches. It is tempting to lay on the ground and look up!


While the flowers of a given tree are perfect and fertile, cross pollination is necessary for floral fertilization and fruit set. This can become an issue if someone starts out with a single plant, but that plant self colonizes through root stocks. So while it appears there are many pawpaws, they are all genetically the same. Therefore, the same plant equals no fruit and very disappointed tasters!   


Speaking of fruit, they are born singly and ripen in late summer. It will usually a race between humans and wildlife to consume the fruit first.  Have you ever enjoyed the fruit of a pawpaw?