The Native American Paw Paw Tree
The Paw Paw, Asimina triloba, is a large shrub that can grow into a small tree, if the lower limbs are pruned off. Paw Paw trees are native trees to the United States and produce the largest native fruit that grows in the U.S. The fruit of the Paw Paw tree can grow to one foot long with a diameter of five inches, and the fruit has the fragrance of ripe bananas when it is ripe, and the skin color is like that of ripening bananas (green-yellow). When eaten fresh a ripe Paw Paw fruit tastes like banana custard, and the fruit can be baked into various gourmet desserts such as Paw Paw custard and Paw Paw pound cake.
The Paw Paw fruit will keep for 10-14 days in a refrigerator, and when placed in a fruit bowl, it can be eaten for a lengthy time. An amazing fact about Paw Paw is that if placed in a shady airy place, it will change in color to black and appears to dry out like a mummy. This characteristic of drying out with little deterioration leads some scientists to believe that it has an enormous potential to fight cancer cells since few microorganisms appear to show interest in the fruit, and insects appear to avoid the fruit. The leaves of the Paw Paw tree can be squeezed to remove the oils into a liquid extract that can be used as a insect repellent. The flowers of the Paw Paw tree appear in TyTy, GA during April, and the fruit ripens in July and August.
The tree of the Paw Paw is shaped much like an inverted cone, and the overall appearance of the leaves and the tree from simulate the Japanese Magnolia tree. The leaves are large much like the Magnolia leaves that hang from the tree in a similar manner. The tree itself can grow to 30 feet, and the fruit of the Paw Paw will mature in full sun or partial shade but tastes richer in flavor when grown in full sun. The Paw Paw tree has a long tap root and is slick and brown-black in color and transplants best from the Fall through the Spring.
The flowers of the Paw Paw are tulip shaped and colored magenta-maroon with a repulsive odor that attracts flies for pollination and other carrion insect pollinators. The Paw Paw tree is very cold hardy and occurs in zones 5-8 from forests in Northern Florida to Illinois and most Eastern U.S. states to Nebraska, to include 25 of the 50 states where excited gardeners are testing that amazing fruit tree to grow in their own garden orchards. You can buy bearing size Paw Paw trees from TyTy Nursery or you can order smaller Paw Paw specimens if you have plenty of time to wait for the tree to fruit.
Plant nutritionists have analyzed Paw Paw fruit and have found that the fruit is a good source of many vitamins to include Vitamin C and metals such as Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Iron along with beneficial portions of riboflavin and various amino acids.