Latin: Asimina triloba
Other common names: pawpaw, paw paw, melon tree, false banana, Michigan banana,custard apple
Mature Height: Usually grows 15-30 ft (4-9 m) tall and wide. Grows as a small tree or a large shrub (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Soil / Climate: Prefers moist, slightly acidic soils and require regular watering, but are adaptable to many conditions. Pawpaw grows in humid climates and are frost tolerant. Easy to grow. Although it will grow in full shade it prefers full sun to part shade (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Notes: If root suckers are not cut back, they will grow to create colonies (Missouri Botanical Garden). The bark is mostly smooth with some wart like texture. The bark is brown with some gray patches. The twigs are smooth and brown (Virginia Tech). The leaves are pear shaped, and are large; growing from 6-12 in (15-30 cm). They droop slightly because of their size. The color of the leaves is a bright medium green. The leaves don’t change color until later in the fall. When they do it is a bright yellow (Missouri Botanical Garden). The leaves, when crushed, give off a peppery smell. In the spring dark purplish brown flowers grow up to 1-2 in (2-5 cm) across (Virginia Tech). The flowers contain 6 petals that grow in a cup shape. The flowers become edible fruits. The fruits are an oblong shape and are a yellowish green color. They mature in the beginning of fall when they are a dark brown. The fruits grow from 2-6 in (7-16 cm) long. And in groups of 2 to 4. The flavor is sweet and resembles a banana or papaya. Fruits are usually used in baking, ice cream, or eating raw. Native Americans made dye from the fruit pulp (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Pollination: Pawpaw flowers are perfect, in that they have both male and female reproduction parts, but they are not self-pollinating. The flowers are also protogynous, i.e., the female stigma matures and is no longer receptive when the male pollen is shed. In addition pawpaws are self-incompatible, requiring cross pollination from another unrelated pawpaw tree. Bees show no interest in pawpaw flowers. The task of pollenization is left to unenthusiastic species of flies and beetles. A better solution for the home gardener is to hand pollinate, using a small, soft artist’s brush to transfer pollen to the stigma. Pollen is ripe for gathering when the ball of anthers is brownish in color, loose and friable. Pollen grains should appear as small beige-colored particles on the brush hairs. The stigma is receptive when the tips of the pistils are green, glossy and sticky, and the anther ball is firm and greenish to light yellow in color. (California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc)
Problems: There are no major problems with this tree. The fruit may cause nausea in some people though (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Wildlife: Fruits are eaten by opossum, raccoon, foxes and squirrels. Which many times get to the fruits before humans (Missouri Botanical Garden).
Cold Stream Farm supplies pawpaw trees which are grown as bare root seedlings and transplants and sold both wholesale and retail with no minimum order.
Additional information on Asimina triloba can be found on the link: USDA / NRCS PLANTS Database.