(Asimina triloba, Annonaceae ((custard apple or soursop)), Magnoliales, Magnoliids)
Pawpaw is a small, deciduous tree native to a vast area of the eastern US and Canada; with huge leaves and a fruit which falls in late August and in September.
The pawpaw shares with some of its distant cousins – native magnolia – its slim, grey, multiple trunks and huge leaves.
Its flowers, though, are completely different from that of any magnolia; and much smaller.
Tiny flowers which often appear dark brown are deep purple.
Pawpaw fruit are considered the largest of north American native fruits.
Sweet fruit but not overly sweet. The taste is faintly vanilla-banana. The feel in the mouth is of custard.
Fruit have not fallen from the tree in these photos in the 25 years I have known this tree.
Pawpaw flowers have both male and female reproduction parts but they are not self-pollinating.
This tree – as far as I know – is solitary.
The fruit can be eaten quite decorously but not by children.
You scoop the flesh and seed into your mouth because the seed is difficult to disentangle from the flesh. You suck the seeds like hard candy and then you take them out of your mouth.
Skin and seed are toxic.
The fruit has a very short shelf life and, widely foraged and even sold in farmers’ markets, has not been commercialized, to my knowledge, in any form.
Photos of a mature pawpaw tree at Winterthur, Delaware.
Header photo of a pawpaw flower is from the net.