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Black, L - Pawpaw

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 5 months ago


Region of occurance                             Asimina triloba

http://plants.usda.gov/maps/large/AS/ASTR.png                                                                                                      (Pawpaw)

North America spread of the Pawpaw


        The great northern banana or pawpaw, a sweet custard like fruit resembling an elongated peach or pear. When ripe the fruiting body conveys a dark brown, somewhat blotchy, finish. The woody parts of the pawpaw resemble a daintiness due to its small stature rarely reaching over thirty feet fully grown (Dean, Chadwick). With its alternating broad leaves one can see its tropical phylogenic background. four to twelve inches long, thin in texture, short pointed with flowers one to one and a half inches wide starting with a color of green later to turn red (Dean, Chadwick). They don't make sturdy fun filled climbing trees but on a hot sunny day their broad leaves, wide canopy create the perfect picnic setting.

Pawpaw tree Fruiting body of the pawpaw  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Asimina_triloba3.jpg/800px-Asimina_triloba3.jpg


    The pawpaw is a wonderful plant, due mostly to its unrecognized usefulness. I have lived in pawpaw country my whole life, the Appalachian region. It can also be found vastly stretched across the eastern half of north America. Those areas include; north to western New York, southern Ontario, west to southeast Nebraska, south to eastern Texas and east to the Florida panhandle (Benvie 2000).  All these places the pawpaw can proliferate yet we still have not turned toward the sweet fruit of the pawpaw, only in Athens do we find a two day festival completely dedicated to the pawpaw.  Athens also has a local farmer who creates jams and chutney from the fruit (which is quite delicious) and a local brew master who puts hops and barley mixed with pawpaw then friendly fun and debauchery ensues. Native Americans recognized its ability to overwhelm the palette and possibly have the ability to heal and even today is being investigated for an anti-cancer cure (Benvie 2000) A few of the tribes to do so were, the Creeks, Cheraws and Catawbas (Jonas 1993).

    This perennial deciduous shrub is recognized as being an ornamental piece for yards and landscapes. The large canopy created by its vast array of leaves puts beauty into any mundane yard. Papaws are quite common and have stability in growth with the abilities to grow in very wet to moderately dry soils (Gilman, Watson 1993). Even with little to no known pest or pestilence affecting the pawpaw tree, New York and New Jersey hold a threatened level, if not planted, soon they will only be found outside those state lines.


 Pawpaw in the wild pawpaw in a nursery setting.



     Like many trees and shrubs its active growth period is spring and summer with spring being time for its purple blooms to open wide and for the trees to begin propagating (Plant Profile (EAB) [Internet}. [updated 2008 Feb 18]) Producing the wonderful fruit which if your lucky to find it in the wild before the animals do can be a great hiking treat. The trees enjoy growing in the forest under story near or on creek or river beds of the temperate deciduous broad leaf and mixed biogeographic biome (Desmond c1995).  One must be careful to not make a hasty decision after finding and eating your first papaw. As they grow naturally in the forest you can come across two types of flavors one has a very sweet and lovely taste which tastes good in deserts and entrees,  the other has a kerosene fuel smell and taste much the same. If you run into this predicament  remember if you mistakenly eat the wrong one do no swear off pawpaw for life. This information was gleaned from the most recent pawpaw festival. The forests in our Appalachian eden are very much misplaced, they are full of medicines, herbs, and fruit; some of which are still undiscovered by man with their great value waiting to cure.

Pawpaw bloomBloomin' pawpaw.    



     The beauty and majesty of these misplaced exotic tropical fruit trees have a breadth of perception about them. Pretty may be nice at a distance but as you approach the buds you can sense an eerie smell of kerosene or used motor oil (Desmond c1995), don't worry you are not about to burst into flames, the smell emanating from the bud is only a defense mechanism used to ward off insects and some forms of larger fauna. 


            What is the most important thing in the world? How many people have you heard say “umm… the world”? Not many but in fact the world is the most important to all living creatures. Every level of world we live in has enormous importance to our lives. From our backyards to the outback we need to protect ourselves and our plant cohabitants. Some levels may fall with added importance but everything living in your nearest house plant to a neighborhood flower garden contains specialties for thriving it its specific area. Not only do plants thrive in a healthy soil, they also thrive in widely diverse locales. Regional biodiversity is key to a healthy habitat; soil, nutrients, pollination all rely on diversity. Relieving any provincial of its diversity can create long term problems far outreaching any short term solutions. We need to take care of each level of life lived in the ways best we can; think globally act locally. All plant life needs their environment to work for them; the immobile harbingers are left to the whim of our influence upon what we all share. We have labeled these many levels of existence we all live in, but one important aspect is each level harbors special life. One special life is the Asimina triloba (Pawpaw). An extraordinary little rooted creature with grossly unrecognized potential.

            The wonderfully fruity plant known as the pawpaw seized a unique niche upon its present regional status. With its roots descended from the tropics and millennia of migration slowly found its way north in one of the many heating periods in Earths history (Gilman, Watson 1993). The paw paw’s newly found bioregion spread vertically across the eastern United States is the temperate broadleaf and mixed forest biome. This bioregion consist mostly of perennial hardwood trees and other plant life which has a tenacity to survive weather extreme, from hot to bitter cold (Desmond 1995). These forests are abundant with life animal and plant alike. In the Midwestern region near the Appalachians many people partake in a long standing tradition; wild cropping. Wild cropping uses the natural settings of the forests to allow productive plant growth for food and medicines. Without cultivation this style of harvesting is very sustainable and healthy. Paw paws are vastly wild cropped used in homemade jams and jelly’s and they have a potential to become very much part of the larger food supply.

 Its eco region or biome lies on the southern end of the great lakes region. Some parts of the region fall below the glaciations line where it’s hillier and more mountains (Southern great lakes (SGL) [Internet]. [updated 2001]. In the northern part of the region most areas get a yearly average rain fall, where rain falls quite equally throughout the year. Towards the southern region the climate is hotter and drier and receives less precipitation yearly. As humans tweak mother natures firm grasp on our planet we are seeing slight changes in the natural cycle of life throughout all biomes. Mans hand doesn’t incur too much wrath, yet. During the fours seasons of change throughout this region we see miles of changing landscapes every year.  There are freezing ice storms in the winter clearing the upper canopies for an opening of new life. During the heavy raining and thawing in spring, flooding occurs and can destroy acres of low land plants and tress. With heavy winds in the storm season trees are felled and always new ones take their place (Desmond 1995). The threat of Mother Nature against Mother Nature tends not to be very concerning, it will always return to how it is supposed to. When something foreign comes into action against the natural settings of the forest, the cycle begins to gyrate off course.

In the good nature of man he sometimes orients his goals to fixing certain problem with pests ranging from; insects and small critters to invasive plant. The solution to these problems may in turn create much greater problems of their own. Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests have threats mostly from man interaction with nature. Invasive species are wildly spreading through the region such as; Japanese knotweed and garlic mustard to just name a few. Not all native plants are affected by these invaders but when a native plant species dies out because it was one affected, that is when the other natives get into trouble. The ultimate solution for many natural problems is time, a flood will subside and the frost will break. A solution for mans intervention is to take away his powers of deduction; they don’t seem to be working. Fixing a problem while creating another just perpetuates any negative impact man is experiencing. A creative mind can create creative solutions. Forget about how our grandfathers trampled about this land, we need to re-think cutting down thousands of trees and replacing them with homes. A family can live with the forest not of the forest.       





Dean F.W., Chadwick L.C. Ohio Trees. Columbus (OH): Ohio State University press. p. 80.


Jonas Gerald. 1993. North American Trees.  Pleasantville (NY): The Readers Digest Association. p. 199


Benvie Sam. 2000. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo (NY): Firefly Books. p. 47-48


Plant Profile (EAB) [Internet}. [updated 2008 Feb 18]. Washington (DC); United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resorce Conservation Service, [cited 2008 Feb 18]. Available from:  http://plants.usda.gov/java/nameSearch?keywordquery=Asimina+triloba&mode=sciname&submit.x=17&submit.y=9


Layne Desmond R. c1995. Pawpaw. In: Community Research Service@ Purdue University Center for New Crops & Plant pruducts [Internet] [Kentucky]: Purdue Univeristy: [cited 2008 Feb 18]. Available from:  http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/cropfactsheets/pawpaw.html


Southern greatlakes forests (SGF) [Internet]. [updated 2001].; World Wildlife fund, Island press [cited 2008 Mar. 4]. Available from: http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/na/na0414_full.html


created by: Luke Black

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