July 2022 - Common Paw Paw

Common Name:  Common Pawpaw also has been called the Custard Apple

Botanical Name: Asimina triloba

Native Range:  Zone 5-8 Native through Western and Eastern United States 

Height: 15’-20’ tall and wide but can grow up to 40’ in a favorable location

Spread: 15’-20’ 

Form:  Described as a multi-stem tree with a short trunk with spreading branches that can be a densely pyramidal

Growth Rate:  Medium 

Sun:  Full sun to part shade

Soil: Prefers moist, well drained, slightly acidic soil

Leaf Description:  Simple oblong leaf which is half as wide as it is long. The leaf is medium green above and lighter green beneath. 

Fall Color:  Color changes to yellow, yellow green in fall with color change dependent upon location.

Flower Description:  The flowers are bright purple and one to two inches in length. Flowers usually consist of 6 petals with the outer the petals larger than the inner three. 

Fruit:  Edible fruit beginning as a green elongated globe turning brown as the fruit ripens. The fruit is described as tasting like a banana with a custardy consistency. 

Bark Description:  Dark brown with some gray areas. 

Wildlife Benefit:  The fruit is a favorite of many small animals and the zebra swallowtail butterfly.

Tolerates:  Acid soil

Possible Insects: None serious  

Possible Disease: None serious once established but excess humidity can cause powdery mildew and black spot.

Uses:  Terrific tree for naturalizing with existing wooded parcels of land either as an edge or understory element. Difficult to transplant so when possible, purchase smaller container grown trees. 

Where to be found on municipal property:  There is a Pawpaw in the garden at Greenway Meadows, next to the Johnson Education Center

Additional Facts: 

  • The pawpaw fruit has been described as a ‘mega fruit’ since it is a source of vitamins A and C, it is in unsaturated fats and protein with a good balance of amino acids
  • Native tree first identified in 1541. 
  • Its’ bark and wood have been used by Native Americans for canoes, housing, and carrying  small objects. 
  • The ground up bark of the pawpaw has been used to produce organic insecticide. 
  • Pawpaw is a slow-growing tree that requires 3 to 4 years of growth before it has the physical structure to produce and support the fruit clusters.
  • Pawpaw exceeds apple, peach, and grape in most vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and food energy values. For the best flavor, eat fully ripe pawpaw fruits.



Dirr, M.A. 2009. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. 6th edition. Stipes Pub. Champaign, Il. 




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