Index- plants in this Family
Annonaceae / Custard Apples
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
Plant Type: This is a tree which can reach a height of 10 Meters (33 feet ) . Twigs with brownish hairs.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 30cm in length (12inches). Leaves can be as wide as 13 cm (5inches). Each leaf is entire, obovate, and abruptly acute, pubescent on under side. The leaves are usually only beginning to appear at the time of flowering.
Flowers: The flowers have 6 Regular Parts and are up to 4cm wide (1.6 inches). They are very dark purple. Blooms first appear in early spring and continue into mid spring. There are three outer petals and three smaller inner petals. The petals are green at first and form on the previous years growth.
Fruit: Large, fleshy, edible berry to 13cm (5") long. Maturing in late summer or early fall.
Bark: Gray with numerous small warts.
Habitat: Rich damp woods.
Range: All of southeastern U. S. as far north southern Canada and west to the edge of the Great Plains

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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This is the most widespread and common of the Asiminas found in North America. It belongs to the same family as several tropical fruits such as Custard Apple and Soursop. The small trees usually grow in dense stands

Lore: Fossil records show that Pawpaws are native to the Southeastern U. S. The range was expanded by Native Americans who valued the flavorful and nutritious fruit. Early white settlers also valued the fruit but the clearing of forests greatly reduced the availability of the fruit. Since the young trees require shade and mature trees only thrive in rich, deep, moist but not soggy soil, the trees are slow to return to the wild after deforestation. One problem that limits fruit production in the wild when populations are small and scattered is pollination. The flowers are perfect but do not self pollinate. The male and female parts mature at different times and the flowers are sterile to there own pollen so must be pollinated by an unrelated tree. Since Pawpaws often spread by root shoots a stand may be entirely one genetic clone thus the entire stand my be unable to pollinate itself. Another problem with Pawpaw fruits is the short shelf life. A fully ripe fruit will only last a day or two without refrigeration.

Despite these problems the Pawpaw may be making a comeback as a commercial fruit. Research is taking place with the aim of producing Pawpaw fruit for the market. Since Pawpaws produce a natural insecticide they do not require the huge amounts of toxic chemicals use to produce such fruits as apples. Pawpaws also seem highly resistant to disease.

In addition to eating the fruit the Cherokee used the inner bark for making rope and twine.(Hamel/Chiltoskey)

Medical Uses: Anti-cancer chemicals have been found in the leaves and twigs.

See the links below this image for other images. (2)
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Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) bud stages  © Daniel Reed
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) - leaves  © Daniel Reed

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves
Custard Apples



Welcome / Glossary / Books / Links / Feedback / Image use policy - Wildflowers of the Southeastern United States, Page updated on 6/25/2002 7:07:21 AM.