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Asimina triloba

This plant has poison characteristics. See below.
Common Name(s):
Pawpaw
Cultivar(s):
Davis, Sunflower, Overleese, NC-1, Shenandoah, Susquehanna, Wabash, Potomac, Allegheny, Mango, A. parviflora (Small-flower, or Dwarf pawpaw)
Categories:
Native Plants, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs, Trees
Comment:

Asimina triloba, commonly called pawpaw, is a small understory tree or large shrub which typically grows 15-20' tall (sometimes to 30') and occurs in low bottom woods, wooded slopes, ravines and along streams. It often spreads by root suckers to form colonies or thickets. Its bark is smooth with wart like lenticels (pores of outer plant tissue that provide a direct exchange of gases between internal plant tissues and the atmosphere).

Wildlife eagerly seek out the fruits and often beat humans to the harvest. Early Americans made a yellow dye from the pulp of the ripened fruit.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal Plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaves:  Fall                  Blooms:   Early spring, spring             Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Late summer, fall

Wildlife Value:  This plant is highly resistant to damage from deer.  Its fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, squirrels, racoons, opossums, black bear and foxes.

 

Description:
Large shrub or small tree; leaves alternate, simple, widest above the middle; flowers with 6 maroon-purple petals; fruit an aromatic, soft and fleshy, cylindrical berry with large, flat, brown seeds
Height:
15-30 ft.
Flower:
Cup shaped, purple flowers (3 green sepals and 6 purple petals in two tiers) appear in spring on the Paw Paw, and give way to edible, oblong, yellowish green fruits which mature in early autumn to a dark brown. The flavor and fleshy consistency of the sweet-flavored fruits resembles bananas. The fruits are frequently eaten raw or used in ice creams or pies, although they can produce nausea in some people.
Zones:
5-9
Habit:
Deciduous
Site:
The Paw Paw is easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It prefers moist, acidic, fertile soils. It will grow in shade but becomes leggy.
Texture:
Medium to coarse
Form:
Multi-stemmed with short trunk and spreading branches
Exposure:
Sun to partial shade; moist soil
Fruit:
Maroon flowers in early spring; 3 to 5 in. yellowish green fruit ripens to dark brown with yellow pulp
Family:
Annonaceae
Origin:
USA, NC
Distribution:
Throughout
Poison Part:
Fruit, leaves
Poison Delivery Mode:
Ingestion, dermatitis
Symptoms:
Fruit edible but some people suffer severe stomach and intestinal pain; skin irritation from handling fruit
Edibility:
Edible parts: raw berries (fruits) in small quantity. Harvest Time: only collect fruit from areas you know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Safe handling procedure: wash fruit thoroughly with warm water. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer, because these products can leave a residue. The fruits generally fall to the ground before they are ripe, and therefore must be ripened at home. Ripen outdoors, the smell is overpowering. The fruit is ripe when the skin turns brown. The fruit can be eaten raw, cutting them in half like an avocado, removing the large oblong seeds and sprinkling with lemon juice.
Toxic Principle:
Unknown
Severity:
CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN. SKIN IRRITATION MINOR OR LASTING ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES.
Found in:
Forest or natural area in rich, moist woods, along streams and river bottoms; often in dense thickets
Width:
15-20 ft.
Leaf:
The Paw Paw has large, slightly drooping, elliptical, medium green leaves (6-12" long) that retain green color well into fall before turning to a bright (but sometimes undistinguished) yellow. The leaves are alternate, simple leaves and have an unpleasant odor when crushed.
Tags:
deciduous, birds, edible, fragrant, rain garden, deer resistant, showy

NCCES plant id: 445

Asimina triloba Asimina triloba young colony
Photo by Dogtooth77, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Asimina triloba Asimina triloba leaf detail
Photo by Dogtooth77, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Asimina triloba Asimina triloba blooms
Photo by Eric Hunt, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Asimina triloba A. triloba with fruit
Photo by Phillip Merritt, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Asimina triloba fall color
Tim Waters, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Asimina triloba flower
Tom Potterfield, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Asimina triloba flower habit
Elizabeth Sellers , CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0
Asimina triloba fruit
Phillip Merit, CC BY-NC-SA - 2.0