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Plant of the Month: American pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

By John Olive

Photo courtesy of John Olive

The American pawpaw is a small to medium (10-foot to 30-foot) deciduous, understory tree.  They produce delicious but highly perishable fruit with a custard-like texture and a flavor like banana. Pawpaw must be picked ripe.  To enjoy the fruit, you will likely have to grow them yourself or locate a wild tree.  Pawpaws can be a challenge in the home garden. They don’t adjust well to transplanting so planting a smaller tree is often best. Pawpaws generally require cross pollination to produce fruit, so two trees are required to get consistent fruiting. Even by planting two trees, pollination is not guaranteed, so hand pollination is often required. Self-pollinating, grafted selections are available, but named varieties are scarce in the trade and most pawpaws found locally are seedlings. With a little effort, a fruiting pawpaw can be a nice addition to your landscape.

Photo courtesy of John Olive

Photo courtesy of John Olive

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