Skip to main content

Asimina triloba

Object Details

See more items in
Smithsonian Gardens Tree Collection
On Display
National Museum of the American Indian
Accession Number
2017-0490A
Description
The pawpaw (from the Arawakan word for papaya, although unrelated) can grow either individually, or in thickets of fruit producing trees. The range of this North American fruit is likely due to several Native American tribes who cultivated the pawpaw for food and some additional purposes. Due to clear cutting, the pawpaw population has decreased and become isolated. Now, this fruit is eaten more by wildlife than people.
The pawpaw grows the farthest north of any member of the otherwise tropical Annonaceae family, and has the largest fruit of any native North American tree. Its fruit is described as tasting like a custardy banana.
Endangered in New Jersey, Threatened in New York.
Hardiness
-20 - 30 F
Attracts
Zebra Swallowtail; Butterflies w/ host
Bloom Time
April to May
Ethnobotanical Uses
Fruit used for food. Iroquois mashed the fruit and dried it in small cakes for storage. Cherokee used pawpaw for food, but also used inner bark to make cordage.
Provenance
From a cultivated plant not of known wild origin
Topic
Trees
Living Collections
Range
Central to E. US; E. Canada
Habitat
Humid climates; in the shade in open woods
Life Form
Deciduous tree
Average Height
20-40'
Bark Characteristics
Young twigs are hairy. Bark is thin with shallow, irregular fissures.
Bloom Characteristics
1.5-2" in diameter. Has three sepals and six velvety petals which are stiff and curl back slightly. Flowers appear before leaves.
Fall Color
Yellow
Foliage Characteristics
Bright green, simple, alternate, obovate leaves with smooth margins and pointed tips. 4-12" long. Coated with fine whitish hairs on top surface and rusty colored hairs beneath. Leaves smell like bell peppers when bruised.
Fruit Characteristics
Yellowish, green, or brown, fleshy, oblong, and thick fruit which is up to 6" long. Fruit's custardy pulp contains several dark brown seeds. Fruit grows individually, or in groups of 2-4. Ripen in August to October.
Structure
Broad, spreading
Data Source
Smithsonian Gardens
Common Name
Custard Apple
Papaw
Pawpaw
Pawpaw apple
Custard Banana
False Banana
Poor Man's Banana
Hoosier Banana
Indiana Banana
Michigan Banana
Nebraska Banana
White Plum
Group
[vascular plants]
Class
Equisetopsida
Subclass
Magnoliidae
Superorder
Magnolianae
Order
Magnoliales
Family
Annonaceae
Genus
Asimina
Species
triloba
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
GUID
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ax764755d69-d3d8-4907-aec5-b4dcafe8a13f
Record ID
ofeo-sg_2017-0490A
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Photographed by: Hannele Lahti
Back to Top