Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (2024)

Did you know that there actually is a Pawpaw patch…it’s true, and the Pawpaw tree has a lot to offer.

This fruit tree can be found in its natural element, growing in damp creeks and ravines all over Ohio, but it also inhabits many southern states in the U.S. and the Pawpaw fruit is delicious.

With broad leaves, narrow trunks, and dark, purple flowers are very distinguishable features, but what makes this tree much sought after are the edible, very juicy fruits.

If you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you’re missing.

This complete guide explains how to identify a Pawpaw tree (and patch) in the wild, and also how to grow your own Pawpaw trees so you can harvest the fruit.

Paw Paw Tree (Asimina triloba)

Native to the Eastern United States, running through Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Connecticut, and Ohio (26 states in all), the Pawpaw Tree is often found growing in the wild along creek banks, growing at steep angles on steep hillsides,1 and at the bottom of ravines as long as its roots have access to a regular water supply.

They also grow well in forests, preferring to stay along the edges and beneath the canopies of their sky-flying neighbors, rarely pushing beyond heights of 25-35 feet, and are fairly unassuming.

Pawpaws are not showy trees with glaringly bright and colorful flowers or leaves of outstanding shades of green.

The leaves are broad and flat, the trunk is average-looking, and the flowers are a dull brown to burgundy in color, not particularly striking even when they are open and lapping up the sunlight.

If it weren’t for the tasty fruits, you could just walk past the Pawpaw Tree without giving it a passing glance,2 just another shade of green in a very monochrome forest.

Unless you look a little bit closer.

Pawpaw Tree Identification (Pawpaw Tree Leaf and Pawpaw Fruit)

The leaves of the Pawpaw Tree are called obovate, meaning that they are broadest just behind the pointed tip and have fine hairs sprouting from the darker green color topside while underneath they are a slighter paler shade.

This is definitely one of its distinguishing features.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (1)

But a casual observer could easily misidentify a Pawpaw Tree as it sometimes grows into the shape of a shrub less than 15 feet and at other times shoots up to twice that height.

Fortunately, the leaves stay the same and once you give them a little squeeze identification will be confirmed.

Even when just slightly bruised, the leaves emit a scent similar to that of bell peppers which is a unique aroma to the Pawpaw Tree.

Here are a few more identification features of this strange-sounding tree in case you stumble across one and are unsure if the fruits are edible or just for the birds.

How To Identify Pawpaw Tree: What Does a Pawpaw Tree Look Like?

The fruit of the Pawpaw Tree resembles an ugly potato or a green mango and even has a mango-ish taste to it with a hint of banana or pineapple mixed in. And it is delicious.

But how to definitively identify what fruit it is, when it’s ripe, and if it can even be eaten straight off the branch?

First, let’s look at where a wild Pawpaw Tree is likely to be growing and then what features set it apart in its natural setting.

Wild Pawpaw Tree

Greater Cincinnati in Ohio is where this long-time native can easily be spotted growing in wooded areas like Burnet Woods, Mt.Airy Forest, Sharon Woods, and in parks such as French Park, Ault Park, and Caldwell Preserve.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (2)

(Image: Cbarlow16)

Although it tolerates growing in shaded areas, this type of environment restricts its growth whereas if exposed to full sunlight and grown in more open spaces, it will grow taller into a pyramidal shape with thick foliage that will bend down toward the ground under its own weight.

Pawpaw Tree Growing Zone

USDA hardiness zones 5-8 are ideal for the Pawpaw Tree as it prefers hot to humid summers and mild to cold winters.

The soil has to be deep as the tree has a long taproot,3 as well as having a high moisture content as they are constantly thirsty, but they will not do well at all if the soil is waterlogged.

If grown in captivity, ensure that your tree gets at least 80cm of rainfall a year or is watered accordingly.

Pawpaw Tree Size

Where the Pawpaw grows often has an effect on its size.

For example, if it grows in the shade of towering, leafy trees, it will only reach heights of 2 to 12 feet and just as wide, resembling more of a shrub than a tree.

Pawpaw Tree Height

Under the ideal soil and sun conditions, it spreads its branches high and wide, 15-25 feet skyward, and 15-25 feet wide, and will grow into a pyramid-like shape instead of a hunched-over shrub.

Pawpaw Tree Leaves

The leaves are simple, alternate, 6-12 inches long, 3-5 inches wide, and broadest above the middle.

The edges are smooth, and the top surface is a darker green while the lower side is slightly paler.

When bruised, the leaves emit a pleasant aroma, and in the fall they turn a golden yellow before dropping free.

Pawpaw Tree Flower

After the dormancy of the winter months, the Pawpaw Tree comes back to life with the flowers blossoming even before the leaves can get a look in.

A dark purple, they grow singly and have a smell like grapes waiting to be turned into wine.

Although not the brightest flowers in the garden, they are classed as perfect because they contain both male and female parts.

Pawpaw Tree Seeds

The Pawpaw fruit contains between 10-14 very dark brown seeds, about 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long.

The fruit actually gets its name from them because when the fruit is sliced open, the way the seeds are arranged resembles that of the paw of an animal.

Paw Paw Bark

The trunk is only about 8-12 inches in diameter, with a light gray bark when the tree is young.

As it matures, the bark of the tree gets thicker, mottled, and darker in color.

Pawpaw Tree Roots

Pawpaw Trees have a main taproot that requires deep soil so they can set down a firm root system. Although not invasive, the roots have suckers that grow above ground from them and can form a clonal colony as they spread outward.4

This new group of trees are also known as a genet and are all genetically identical as they have grown from one tree and are essentially clones.

This feature is not identifiable above ground, but out of sight all the roots are intertwined and connected, in a sense forming one giant organism.

Paw Paw Fruit

One of the reasons why this delicious fruit is not more famous outside of the regions where it grows is solely due to the fact that it ripens too quickly.

Often called the custard apple, thanks to the consistency of the pulp, once the fruit becomes ripe it has to be eaten within a day unless refrigerated.

When ripe, the fruit is often yellowish like a banana, and the skin will give slightly when gently squeezed.

What Is a Pawpaw Tree? (Paw Paw Pictures)

A Pawpaw Tree looks like it should be growing somewhere on a tropical island on the other side of the world; it has that look about it. Yet it is cold tolerant and prefers moderate climates where it has a bit of everything weather-wise.

Each tree is either classed as male or female, dioecious, and to propagate there has to be a tree of the opposite sex nearby to enable the fruits to grow.

It is nigh on impossible to tell the sex of the tree until the first blooms appear, however, so it is always advisable to plant different types of trees in the same vicinity to achieve a successful harvest.

But be aware that there are other Pawpaw varieties, cultivars, and hybrids that vary slightly from the original and offer something a little different.

Susquehanna Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 2-4 years
USDA Hardiness Zone: 5-9
Fruit: Heavier and larger than other Pawpaw fruits weighing more than a pound.
Color: Light green, then yellow when ripe
Fruits Ripen: October and has thicker skin, so doesn’t bruise as easily
Flavor: Typical buttery taste and very sweet

Wells Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 3-5 years
USDA hardiness zone: 4-8
Fruit: Medium to large in size
Color: Green skinned
Fruits Ripen: Ready to be harvested in September
Flavor: This variety has a distinct banana taste to it which is strange as the flesh has an orange tinge to it.

Rappahannock Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 2-4 years
USDA hardiness zone:5 5-9
Fruit: Medium to large and regular sizes rather than misshaped like other Pawpaws
Color: Yellow to green in hue
Fruits Ripen: The flesh is a brighter yellow than other Pawpaws and not as overpoweringly sweet.
Flavor: The taste is similar to a banana with a hint of vanilla

Pennsylvania Golden Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 5-7 years
USDA hardiness zone: 4-8
Fruit: Medium to large
Color: Yellow/green
Fruits Ripen: Late September
Flavor: The flesh is soft and sweet

Potomac Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 3-5 years
USDA hardiness zone: 5-9
Fruit: Medium-sized
Color: Yellow
Fruits Ripen: September to October
Flavor: Very juicy and rich, sweet taste.

Shenandoah Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 2-4 years
USDA hardiness zone: 5-9
Fruit: Large fruit that remains firm when ripe
Color: Yellow
Fruits Ripen: In September
Flavor: It has a wonderful aroma, with custard consistency and a mixture of banana and fruit taste, and has very few seeds

Wabash Pawpaw Tree

Blossoms: 2-3 years
USDA hardiness zone: 5-9
Fruit: Medium-sized and shaped like a cannonball
Color: Yellow/orange when ripe
Fruits Ripen: October
Flavor: So juicy and creamy that best to be eaten with a spoon.

Pawpaw Trees have the distinction of bearing the largest fruit in North America from native trees and one of the tastiest.

It used to be more well-known in decades gone, coveted by early European settlers.

But it was gradually overtaken and lost its popularity to other fruits due to its restrictive growing environments, the fact that they do not travel well over long distances, and do not last a long time once they have ripened.

Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and bananas last for days or weeks and can travel long distances which means they can be marketed and sold far and wide.

The Pawpaw fruit, although very delicious, is more regional than international.

Pawpaw Tree Growth Rate: How Fast Do Pawpaw Trees Grow?

Neither a fast grower nor a slow one, the Pawpaw Tree can add 13-24 inches in height a year.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (3)

How long it takes to grow Pawpaw Tree will depend on the conditions. The soil quality, sunlight exposure, and water availability will determine whether it starts to bear fruits from year 4 or 5 or in year 8 or 9.

If you’re planning on growing a few of these for your garden, it’s better to start them off in a bottomless container, as you will be able to control the exposure to the sun in terms of placement.

This is important because, during the early stages, the fledgling tree will require some shading from the sun.

It will take about 8 years to grow to full maturity, and during that time its exposure to sunlight can be increased gradually over the years.6

Proper management and timing are important as is taking care when transplanting outside as the roots do not like being disturbed. This can affect the growth of the tree as well as when it will begin flowering and fruiting, so handle it with kid gloves.

Growing a Pawpaw Tree From a Seed

Seeds of the Pawpaw fruit undergo a normal stratification period in the wild as the ripe fruits fall to the ground, decay, and the seeds worm their way underground.

This is partially successful as these seeds are often unearthed by scavenging chipmunks who feast on as many of them as they can find.

Those that remain undetected stay buried under the soil for 70-100 days before they start to form shoots. If choosing to stratify your seeds with this method, it may well be wise to protect those precious seeds with a wire mesh, or they will be found and gobbled up by hungry little scavengers.

Another method to achieve cold stratification is to break the dormancy of the seed by popping them in a refrigerator. It will still take between 70-100 days before the shoots form, but the control will be in your hands.

To do this indoors first, fill a plastic zip-lock back with a moistened growing medium like peat moss, insert the seeds, and place them at the back of the refrigerator where the temperature needs to be between 32°-40° F.

Alternatively, you can gently push the seeds into a tray filled with sand and vermiculite and lightly moisten them. Keep the bag out of direct sunlight where the temperature will be between 75°-85° F.

Either of these methods works well and whichever you choose is down to personal preference.

Once the taproot has poked free, follow these simple steps to get your very own Pawpaw Tree on the rise.

  • Remove any signs of mold by rinsing gently.
  • Score along the seams.
  • Fill a very long planting pot with no base or container with loosely packed sand and vermiculite, or mix your own homemade potting media.7 The taproot will often poke out of the bottom of shallower pots so needs space to grow unhindered.
    If restricted, it will grow back on itself in a J shape which can lead to stunted growth and future problems.
  • Do not allow the soil to dry out, but be careful not to overwater.
  • It can take 2 to 3 months before any leaves appear above the soil line as the seeds are focused on extending the taproot. Still, it is advisable to place them outside in a permanent location before the leaves appear to avoid a shock to the system.
    The leaves will need some exposure to shaded sunlight as soon as they poke free and the roots will need to acclimatize to their new soil conditions as soon as possible; they dislike the discomfort of being transplanted.

Growing a Pawpaw Tree From a Seedling (How To Grow a Pawpaw Tree From Pawpaw Seedlings and Pawpaw Sapling)

A seedling grown from seed will need to be transferred from a pot into a hole, one that has to be twice as big as the root ball. A new root system will need to be handled with care to prevent any damage during the transfer.

Once placed in the hole, backfill with the surrounding soil mixed with manure or peat moss to aid in drainage and tamp down gently. The watering needs for Pawpaw Tree plants require just about an inch a week with care not to overdo it.

For the first season, use a liquid fertilizer every few weeks, and then in the second year switch to and apply a granular fertilizer every 6 months.

During these first 2 years, the seedling needs to be kept out of prolonged direct sunlight and protected from strong winds and curious animals. To do that, a covering of chicken wire or wire mesh will provide sufficient protection.

Planting Tips for Pawpaw Tree: Identify Pawpaw Patch Pics, Growing Zones

The best-growing conditions for Pawpaw Tree are where the soil is organically rich and drains well.

And it is crucial that you consider how much sunlight does Pawpaw Tree need each day.

Here are another few top tips to get the best flowers and tastiest fruits from your Pawpaw Tree.

  • Choose a spot for your seedling that has only between 2-6 hours of sunlight a day, but if the direct sunlight becomes too hot, erect a screen for partial shading.
  • After first planting, mulch around the base.
  • Allow between 8-15 between planting sites for airflow around the plants. If too constricted because the canopies have grown too close, there is a risk of mildew forming.
  • Always plant a few Pawpaw Trees in the same area for varieties and to aid in propagation.8 Do trees have genders? No, but they do have male or female fruits, and one will be unable to grow without the other being in close proximity.
  • To encourage new growth, prune dead branches and twigs to encourage fresh growth when the new season starts.
  • Maintain the area around the base free of weeds as they can become problematic for the growing tree.
  • If you’re concerned that the tree may not pollinate due to a lack of birds and insects, run a soft brush over the antlers of one of the flowers and transfer the pollen to a flower on another tree.
  • If the suckers from the roots appear like they are getting out of control, feel free to prune them back carefully.

Pawpaw Tree Care

Once you’ve taken the decision to plant a Pawpaw Tree in your garden, there are a few things you need to be aware of and conditions that the tree will prefer to get the best quality fruits to enjoy when they finally emerge after a couple of years if you’re lucky.

It can be up to 8 years before any fruits are ready to be munched on, so patience is the first thing you’re going to need in your gardening shed.

Starting from a Pawpaw sapling can save you years of monitoring and managing the seedlings with no bounty to show for it. Starting from this stage will get you a lot closer to harvest time unless you enjoy the total experience of rearing a tree from nothing but a little brown seed.

Now, if you have the space, always consider planting 2 or 3 trees, or you may find that after the first year, the fruits don’t appear. This is because male and female fruits grow on different trees so they need to be in the same vicinity to pollinate.

Still, make sure to plant them at least 8 feet away from each other and other plants so the canopies can grow out and the roots of each tree will have enough water and won’t have to compete for nutrients.

A top tip is to leave the plant in the container for as long as possible so the roots can become more established, and then remove it with extreme care so as not to jolt the taproot with the shock of moving house.

  • Make sure to ease the roots into their new location by having the hole the same depth and width as the container.
  • Use compost, either purchased or made at home,9 and slow-release fertilizers, preferably organic, with a phosphorous content to aid in absorption and to prevent any nutrient deficiencies.
  • Keep the sapling partially shaded as it grows even if it has to be artificially created, and then let it enjoy more sunshine as it grows up.
  • Regularly water to keep a good level of moisture without deluging the roots with too much water.
  • Pruning is an important part of a successful harvest, and it’s not difficult. If you notice that many leaves are blocking sunlight from the fruits, then it’s time to get the shears out and snip them away.
    Without sunlight at this stage, the Pawpaw fruits may not ripen at all.
  • If the tree appears overladen with fruit, cut many away to prevent damaging overcrowding and leave about 6-8 inches between the fruits.
  • Some gardeners have taken to placing a blanket or fleece around the tree in winter or painting the trunk white to prevent cracking.
  • When the fruits are ready to be harvested, handle them with care as they bruise easily. You may also consider placing a net over the tree to protect against pests and foraging plants.
  • They will last up to 3 days if stored at room temperature, but keep them in a fridge when they are semi-ripe and they will still be edible weeks later.

Common Pests of the Pawpaw Tree and Natural Pest Control for Pawpaw Tree

Although somewhat disease resistant, the Pawpaw Tree still has its fair share of pests that find various parts of a tree as delectable as this one, irresistible.

They fly, crawl, creep, and burrow, sometimes causing mayhem, other times just being what they are – pests.

The Pawpaw Peduncle Borer (Talponia plummeriana)

This particular type of Pawpaw Tree pest is barely 10mm long, yet it can cause a lot of damage as its larvae emerge and gnaw into the flowers or the fruits.

Their infestation causes the flowers to drop which isn’t that much of a problem.

But on the occasions when the larvae penetrate the skin of the fruits, they are no longer fit for human consumption.

Nature does have a natural pest control for the shuffling larvae as they shuffle from flower to flower in the form of the golden-winged warbler that feasts on them every time they feel even slightly peckish.10

San Jose Scale (Quadraspidiotus perniciosus)

They may not look like much, but if left unchecked, these tiny yellow insects can kill branches or possibly the whole tree in a matter of years.

The infestation starts with the females laying live crawlers that are eager to investigate their surroundings, and as they go, they inject a deadly toxin into every part of the tree – the twigs, the leaves, the fruits.

This poison leaves a red discoloration under the bark and tiny blemishes in the flesh of the fruit: the more blemishes, the more toxins have been injected, making the fruits inedible.

Experts at remaining under the radar, these insects can stay hidden, procreating until actual colonies of them have invaded the tree.

Unfortunately, pesticides are not very effective as the bugs have already coated themselves with a substance to protect against pesticides.

The only way to eliminate them is to use an insecticide and a horticultural oil mixed with water. This needs to be sprayed before the flowers bloom.

If ineffective, pheromone traps work by luring them onto a stocky tape pad and then disposing of them.

The Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly (Protographium marcellus)

A pest, but an attractive one.

The zebra swallowtail butterfly is an impressive and beautiful sight to behold.

It’s easy to be mesmerized as it lightly flits from leaf to leaf, taking a little nibble and then moving on.

Until you realize that every time it stops an egg is being laid that will soon turn into a leaf-nibbling caterpillar.

As they emerge, the larvae feast on the leaves singly, avoiding their brothers and sisters as cannibalism is one of their disturbing traits. The young leaves that they eat contain a toxin called acetogenins which, as they grow, becomes part of their survival mechanism, warding off predators who find them unpalatable.

As they are slow-moving and easily spotted, removing them by hand is fairly easy, or a spray containing bacteria bacillus thuringiensis can be used.

Other notable pests to be on the lookout for are Pawpaw whiteflies, earwigs, hornworms,11 and spider mites. Water mixed with vinegar, insecticidal soap, and baking soda seems to be a good way to get rid of them.

How To Stop Pawpaw Tree Disease: Pawpaw Tree Disease Prevention

It may not resemble a warrior tree all tall and mighty and be able to ward off pest invasions and diseases, but the Pawpaw Tree can do both.

The larvae of the zebra swallowtail butterfly are only one of a handful of insects that can withstand the acetogenin toxins present in the leaves, branches, and twigs.

Not many diseases are able to get a firm hold either, but two of the most ruinous ones are black spots and powdery mildew.

Black Spot

This fungal infection generally occurs when there is an overabundance of rainfall. It is unsightly, black spores festering on the underside of the leaves, possibly migrating onto the fruits and marking them with dark brown spots.

The leaves and the fruits are very infectious and can cause an outbreak if not treated quickly.

Cutting away all infected leaves and removing any fruit and destroying them is the first step in controlling any spreading to nearby trees.

Afterward, spraying with an oil-based fungicide containing copper will help to manage the damage.

Since excess water is a culprit, a proper maintenance schedule will prevent any fungal build-ups. They should include pruning, weeding, spraying with liquid seaweed, and ensuring that your plant is receiving enough nutrients like potassium and phosphorous.

Powdery Mildew

Mold is never a good look on a plant.

Powdery mildew isn’t deadly, it’s not going to law a Pawpaw Tree low in a matter of weeks. No, but it will affect the growth of your tree and cause disfigurement, as well as damage the fruit.

To eliminate it, prune leaves, infected fruits, and twigs, and then spray with a wettable sulfur compound.

Most diseases that assault Pawpaw Trees are able to take hold because the trees are weakened in some way. Ensure that the trees are fertilized adequately to avoid any bacterial or fungal infections.

Companion Plants for Growing Pawpaw Tree

Having plants growing in close proximity to each other can create a symbiotic relationship to repel pests, ward off diseases, and provide soil nutrients that the other plant may lack.

They also serve to occupy empty spaces that need filling yet certain plants may not thrive under circ*mstances where there is constant shade, for example, or not enough water.

Another useful aspect is pollination.12

Pawpaw Trees rely on insects and butterflies to carry the pollen and seeds between their species, unable to pollinate their fruits and flowers solo.

The diversity that companion planting provides is also good for keeping unwanted pests at bay.

Some good plants to have around your Pawpaw Tree are:


One of the first benefits of using this grass-like plant is that it eliminates the need to mulch around the base of the tree.


Milkweed is easy on the eyes and a delight for the nose.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (4)

(Image: Jim Hudgins/USFWS18)

But more than just their good looks, they repel insects as their milk is somewhat toxic, guarding the site against predators and this helps to maintain a clean bill of health for both plants.

Eastern Redbud

The main reason for having this tree close to a Pawpaw Tree is that the flowers bloom at the same time, look and smell fantastic, and can provide shading for the Pawpaw Tree.


Clover works very well as a companion plant as it introduces high levels of nitrogen into the soil.

This property allows nearby plants to enrich themselves on a clean nitrogen source that helps to alleviate the need for fertilizers and boosts the plant’s immune system at the same time.

Walnut Trees

Pawpaw Trees are one of the few plants that can withstand a poison called Juglone that walnut trees secrete from their roots

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (5)

(Image: AnRo000219)

This immunity makes walnut trees ideal for shading Pawpaws, for keeping away the competition, and for attracting beneficial insects for cross-pollination.


Planting nasturtiums around your Pawpaw Tree will add a wealth of vibrant colors and diversity to your landscape.

They also attract pollinators to the area while helping to fight invasive pests by attracting them away from their intended target, as well as beneficial bugs that will hunt them down.

Thanks to nasturtiums, all those crawlers nibbling on the leaves and flowers and burrowing into the fruits will be picked off before they can decimate your treasured harvest.

How Much Carbon Does Pawpaw Tree Sequester?

Carbon sequestration is a decarbonization process where a tree or plant captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then through an internal photosynthesis process scrubs it clean so it can be released back into the environment as clean air.

The older and bigger the tree, the more greenhouse gasses and CO2 it can remove and store within its frame.

This is one of the core methods in the fight against climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, hence the outcry when large swathes of forests are razed to the ground.

There are several growing zones for Pawpaw Tree. Where to grow and how it will turn out will depend on where you grow it.

As an understory, it will either not grow very tall or remain shrub-like. When more in the open with enough space around it, then it can grow up to 25-35 feet.

In terms of longevity, a Pawpaw Tree has a lifespan of about 40 years, which in tree terms is not very long.

Once it is fully mature, a Pawpaw Tree can expect its level of carbon capture to be around 48 pounds of C02 absorbed a year.

That’s average for most trees but pales in comparison to living Oak Trees that can absorb over 10,994 of C02 over their lifetime.

It just goes to show that without trees and plants, the air we breathe wouldn’t be as clean and fresh as it should be, and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

Related Reading: How Much Carbon Does a Tree Capture (24 Species + Calculator)

Pawpaw Tree Symbolism

Having been around for hundreds of years, the Pawpaw Tree should be famous in all parts of the United States. Yet it remains underappreciated and often undiscovered.

  • One of the main aspects that it symbolizes is transience. This is due to its relatively short life span which means that a gift of a Pawpaw Tree may mean that the relationship will be short-lived.
  • Dreaming of a Pawpaw fruit apparently symbolizes abundance, opportunities, and rewards to come.
  • Dreaming of the tree itself signifies a transitory phase of your life where something is about to change.

Pawpaw Tree Facts

Very rich in the history of the United States and even richer in taste, the forgotten Pawpaw fruit is undergoing a resurgence.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (6)

(Image: Pufacz20)

Native Americans have been enjoying this delicious fruit since before 1541 when they were first discovered cultivating it among their crops along the Mississippi River.

Shelf life wasn’t a concern back then; fruits were either picked from the branch or gathered up when they fell to the ground and consumed pretty quickly or cooked there and then.

What other unknown facts are there?

  • The Pawpaw Tree is the only tree that is native to Ohio.
  • The fruits are the largest edible fruits that are native to North America.
  • It is a little know fact that Pawpaws are powerhouses when it comes to antioxidants and vitamin C.13 The vitamin C in one Pawpaw fruit is 3 times that of an apple and 2 times as much as a banana.
  • The protein content is quite high for fruit at 1.2 grams, bearing in mind that an apple only has 0.19 grams.
  • Iron, copper, magnesium, niacin, zinc, and potassium are also found in significant amounts.
  • The name “the poor man’s banana” came about because, during the Great Depression, the starving masses could only afford to eat them in place of the more expensive fruits that they couldn’t afford, such as apples, pears, oranges, and bananas.
  • There is a special treat in Ohio where the flesh of the fruit has been turned into ice cream, and it goes down a treat.
  • When a Pawpaw fruit is fully ripe it can spoil within a day so needs to be eaten quickly on one hand, but slowly at the same time to savor the mouthwatering flavor.
  • Ohio actually has a fete celebrating this fruit. It is called the Pawpaw Festival and is a yearly event held in Lake Snowden for a few days in September where the fruit is sold, cooked, and baked into tasty dishes.
  • The fruit is often referred to as the American Custard Apple, the Missouri Banana, or the Kentucky banana to name just a few.
  • Two Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson adored the Pawpaw fruit. George Washington classed it as his favorite dessert, while Jefferson ensured one was planted at his home in Virginia so he could snack on one whenever he wanted.
  • A compound called annonacin in the flesh of the fruit doesn’t always agree with everyone’s digestive system. There are a few people who have tried the fruit, loved the taste, but have experienced a troubling stomach reaction afterward but this is very rare.
  • Before the ice age wiped them out, the mastodons and megafaunas were accustomed to eating Pawpaws regularly in their diet. This would account for how the seeds were able to be spread across the U.S.
  • Early American settlers and Native Americans used the Pawpaw Tree to make natural dyes from the fruits while ropes and types of clothing were made from the inner bark.14
  • Studies are ongoing into the anti-cancer and anti-microbial properties contained within the fruits.

Pawpaw Fruit Taste

Local farmers’ markets are a regular place to find Pawpaw fruits as it doesn’t keep well for long distances, but even then many people are unsure of what they are, and are nervous about trying them.

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (7)

(Image: Jim Rathert21)

Free tasters help to boost sales after the famous and not-so-famous custard apple is sampled, as is incorporating the fruit into delicious ice creams, preserves, and even beers.

The fruits have been baked into delicious pies as well as mixed in smoothies and,

in an effort to promote the Pawpaw product beyond the boundaries of Ohio, a local company has pulped and frozen the flesh so it can be enjoyed by a wider client base.

Word of mouth will also help in the marketing department as people are more likely to taste a new fruit if told how fantastic it is.

If you’re planning to planet a Pawpaw tree, make sure that you have the right growing conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Pawpaw Tree


1NC STATE. (2023). Asimina triloba. North Carolina Extension Gardener. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

2Clemson University. (2023). PAWPAW. HGIC. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

3Division of Agriculture. (2023). Plant of the Week: Taproots. Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

4Alfuth, D. (2021, May 28). How to Deal with Surface Tree Roots. Wisconsin Horticulture. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

5Collins-Smith, S. M. (2022, March 4). What Is My Plant Hardiness Zone? Mississippi State University. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

6ISU Extension and Outreach. (2023). How fast do trees grow? IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

7Sellmer, J., & Kelley, K. (2023, March 14). Homemade Potting Media. PennState Extension. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

8Cooperative Extension. (2023). Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard. The University of Maine. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

9College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. (2023, February 14). How to Make Compost at Home. University of Maryland Extension. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

10Natural Resources Conservation Service. (2023). Golden Winged Warbler. USDA. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

11Utah State University. (2023). Tomato Hornworm Tobacco Hornworm. Utah Vegetable Production & Pest Management Guide. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

12Forest Service. (2023). What is Pollination? USDA. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

13National Library of Medicine. (2017, December 26). Antioxidants. Medline Plus. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

14DONAHUE, B. K. (2022, May 6). Gardening for Natural Dyes. The University of Vermont. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

15Knauss, N., & Marquesen, S. (2021, September 28). Pawpaw Fruit in the Garden and the Kitchen. PennState Extension. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

16Wild pawpaw patch with fruit in Michigan Photo by Cbarlow / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Resized & Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

17Photo by co*kolatetnica. Resized & Changed Format. Pixabay. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

18Milkweed flower Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS. Resized & Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

19Juglans regia Photo by AnRo0002 / CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. Resized & Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

20Asimina triloba Photo by Pufacz / Public Domain. Resized & Changed Format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

21State Fruit Tree – Pawpaw Photo by Jim Rathert / No known copyright restrictions. Resized & Changed Format. Flickr. Retrieved June 24, 2023, from <>

Pawpaw Tree Guide: How To Identify Pawpaw Patch Pic, Growing Zone (Care) (2024)


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