Looking For Something Totally Unique For Your Garden: Your Choice Would Be A Pawpaw

Looking For Something Totally Unique For Your Garden: Your Choice Would Be A Pawpaw


Photo Compliments of Elizabeth Sellers

Asimina triloba, or pawpaw, brings uniqueness and interest to your garden as well as a fruit praised for its significant health benefits.  Foliage, flowers, fruit production, and interesting bark gives you four seasons of interest.

Pawpaw is a 25 foot short-trunked tree or large multi-stemmed shrub with a pyramidal shape. Young shoots and leaves are covered with a rusty down, later becoming smooth. The gorgeous leaves are large (6 to 12 inches and 3 to 5 inches wide), elliptical, and slightly drooping. The color is a light to medium green and they have a slight smell of fresh green peppers when crushed. The long, downward slope give the tree a very gentle look overall and can add texture to a landscape design. The fall color is outstanding as leaves turn a bright yellow. The tree will hold on to the leaves for an extended period during the autumn, bringing even more value to the ornamental landscape.

Asimina triloba produces six-petaled maroon or purple flowers (April to May) that are borne singly in leaf axils before leaf emergence in spring. Flowers are 1 to 2 inches across.


Photo Compliments of Alice Crain

The greenish fruits (largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States) are shaped like bananas or mangos. They reach 3 to 6 inches in length and hang in clusters with 2 to 9 pawpaws per cluster. When ripe, the fruit tastes like a creamy mixture of banana and pineapple. Plants are not self-pollinating. They are also self-incompatible and often require pollen from a genetically different tree for fertilization to occur. Your pawpaw will not be pollinated by bees but instead by carrion flies and beetles. These bugs are notoriously unreliable in the early spring (most farmers hand pollinate) to guarantee a good crop.

Pawpaws are prone to suckering and the proverbial pawpaw patch is often a clone arising from a single individual. Asimina triloba or pawpaw is native to the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern United States as well as adjacent southernmost Ontario, Canada.

Factors That Makes Your Pawpaw Thrive

Pawpaw or Asimina triloba is easy to grow in moist, acidic, fertile soil in full sun to part shade. It will sucker less in drier conditions and can survive drought without severely damaging the tree. In the wild you will find them to be an understory tree found easily in well-drained, deep, fertile bottom-land and hilly upland habitat.

General Pawpaw Information

Disease & Pests

It is easy to grow and relatively pest and disease free.

Garden Uses

This tree or shrub can be used accent for its ornamental value or in your garden for its value as a fruit producer.

Quick Facts

  • Family: Annonaceae
  • Common Name: Pawpaw
  • Habit: Deciduous
  • Foliage: Alternate, simple, obovate to oblong, 5 to 11 inches long, 2 to 3 inches wide, dark to lite green above and below.  Green pepper odor when crushed.
  • Flower: Monoecious; purplish-brown, broad bell shape, 6 petals, approximately 2 inches across; appearing with or slightly before the leaves.
  • Fruit: Resembles a short, fat banana, 2 1/2 to 4 inches long, at first green then tuning yellowish then brown as they ripen in the fall; very fleshy and tastes much like a banana.
  • Twig: Moderately stout, red-brown; buds are purplish brown, fuzzy, naked buds which are flattened and often curved, terminal bud 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.
  • Bark: Smooth, brown, splotched with wart-like lenticels, oftenit has light gray patches.
  • Height: 15-30 feet at maturity
  • Hardiness Zones: Zones 5to 9
  • Sun Exposure: Sun to partial shade
  • Water Requirement: Moist, well-drained soil

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  1. Too cold here for paw paw, but they are delicious!

  2. It looks delicious, mango, pear… tastes! I have never heard of paw paw. Thank you Charlie!

  3. I really love the flowers of this plant, Charlie.
    They remind me very much of poppies.

  4. I heard my mom talk about eating paw-paws, but I have never even seen one! A shame, because they are native to Alabama. I don’t think the grocery stores carry them. Maybe I need to put this tree on my short list.
    debsgarden recently posted..Autumn Passes AwayMy Profile

  5. I like both banana and pineapple, but never had this fruit. I have seen them growing and they are a nice garden adidtion.
    Donna recently posted..Charles Cresson Gardens – Part 1My Profile

  6. I would love to see how they turn out in your garden and what you think of the taste.
    Charlie@Seattle Trekker recently posted..Why Isn’t The Grand Canyon On Your Bucket List?My Profile

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