The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is an understory tree with broad geographic hardiness, including our region. It is easily identified by large, elongated leaves that turn a buttery gold in fall. At least two varieties are needed for good pollination and fruit set. Pawpaws will tolerate high shade and a slightly acidic soil. They will set more fruit if grown in full sun. It can take four to ten years from planting to fruiting. However, they lack virtually any pests and require little maintenance.
Known for their ability to sucker, creating patches, Pawpaw trees mature at 15’-30’ tall by 15’-20’ wide. They can be kept pruned to around a 10’ size for ease of picking the large fruits, the biggest native fruit in North America. Since bloom time is April to May, it’s best to site your Pawpaws in a protected area in case of a late frost.
Pawpaws are host to the zebra swallowtail butterfly and are pollinated by flies and beetles. Each fruit ripens separately and keeps only for a day or two. This delicious seasonal treat is being rediscovered by chefs and foodies who incorporate Pawpaw into smoothies, jams, custards, ice cream, and baked goods. The Pawpaw fruit is loaded with Vitamin C and Potassium, among other valuable nutrients. Read more about their nutritional value here.