Pawpaw - A small native tree worthy of planting for many reasons
Asimina triloba, commonly known as the pawpaw tree, is an understory tree deeply rooted in the history of the 26 Eastern states within which it is native.
Aside from the weather being just right to give most tree species plenty of time to establish before the first deep freeze, why should you plant a pawpaw now? Let’s dive into some of our top reasons.
Appealing to the organic grower in all of us, pawpaw has no pest or disease problems that plague it. Therefore, it requires no pesticides or herbicides to thrive in your landscape. Not only will it hold a role as a great food-producing component for your property each fall, but it also produces the largest edible fruit native to the United States. And they are indeed very tasty with a sweet, tropical, banana-mango taste and feel. Although in the wild it can form patches or coppices that extend for acres, it is not likely to do so on your property! Instead it forms a rounded tree about the size of a small dogwood with beautiful golden yellow leaves in the fall.
Pawpaw is the host plant for the zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus). When its caterpillars eat pawpaw leaves, they ingest a lifetime supply of pawpaw’s characteristic toxicity, thus protecting them from predation for life. Furthermore, one of our favorite and trusted authors, Douglas W. Tallamy lists it as a "native plant with wildlife value and desirable landscaping attributes".
Want to learn more about this species and the American food system? We recommend you read Andrew Moore's book, “Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit”. It certainly enhanced our knowledge and appreciation for this tree.
Ready to plant a pawpaw of your own? We currently have them in stock at Sunlight Gardens: https://sunlightgardens.com/products/11529
written by Aleka Hobby
Pawpaw fall color
Zebra swallowtail caterpillar
Photos courtesy Wiki photos