Common Name:Pawpaw, Paw Paw
Origin: The Pawpaw tree is indigenous to America. In the eastern part of the United States the tree grows wild.
Growth Habit: The pawpaw is a tree that needs a lot of water. The tree grows in swampy low lying areas and needs lots of water to grow. Pawpaw trees are prone to producing root suckers a few feet from the trunk. When these are permitted to grow, the single-clone pawpaw patch comes into being. The prevailing experiences of many individuals is that the pawpaw is a slow grower, particularly when it is young. Many times you will see groups of 10-20 Pawpaw trees in an area. After heavy rain they tend to grow faster and produce more fruit.
Foliage: The dark green leaves are shaped like spades. They hang down from the tree and in fall they turn yellow.
Flowers: In May and March the Pawpaw tree blooms. The flower buds are dark brown in color. Once bloomed the flowers turn maroon in color The blossom consists of 2 whorls of 3 petals each.
Fruit: Individual fruits weigh from 5 to 16 ounces and are 3 to 6 inches in length. The fruit has the resemblance of a mango. There is a row of about 10 seeds in the middle of the fruit. The seeds are black and are about the same size as a kidney bean. Like banana trees the pawpaw fruit develops in clusters. The ripe fruit is soft and thin skinned .Fruit set in the wild is usually low and may be pollinator or resource-limited but under cultivation. The pawpaw fruit tastes like a custard and has a very strong smell to it. Once picked the fruit will last for around 3 days. If refrigerated it could last up to 4 weeks. The pawpaw fruit is very easy to eat and can be enjoyed anywhere.
Pests and diseases: Pawpaw trees are relatively disease free. The predators of the pawpaw tree are fox, mink,racoon,squirrel, bats and other small rodents. Squirrels and raccoons pose the biggest threat to pawpaw trees as these rodents eat the fruit of the tree. An unlikely predator is snails and butterfly's. They have been known to feed on the pawpaw leaves and can cause extensive damage.
Pollination: The pawpaw tree has always been poorly pollinated. In the wild bees and other insects avoid the plant and as a result, harvest yields tend to be low. The pawpaw tree primarily relies on flies and beetles for pollination. If you are growing a pawpaw tree and intend to have a high yield of fruit I would recommend pollinating the tree yourself. It is not very difficult. All you need is a brush. You can go from blossom to blossom using the brush to spread the pollen. Although this is labor intensive it is the best way to pollinate pawpaw tree. This is one of the reasons why one does not see pawpaw fruit in supermarkets because it is hard to grow the trees on a commercial scale.
There are two main reasons why pawpaw cannot be grown on a commercial scale, the first reason is that they require lots of water and tend to grow in swampy land which makes it hard for farmers to cultivate and pick the fruit. The second reason why the pawpaw is not commercially viable is that the tree tends to have low harvest yields making it very difficult to grow large amounts of fruit.
Conclusion: In conclusion the pawpaw tree is an amazing thing. With an amazing fruit and a spectacular look it is hard not to like the pawpaw tree. In recent years more attention has been brought to the pawpaw trees and as more people switch too natural locally grown foods, the pawpaw will gain more popularity and one day soon it will come to grocery stores around you!