Asimina triloba, Pawpaw Tree
A wonderful Missouri native understory tree, Pawpaw, Asimina triloba produces round fruit that taste like a cross between a mango, pineapple, and a banana with a vanilla, custard-like texture. In spring, cup shaped purple flowers bloom that give way to its delicious fruit that appears in autumn. It is desirable to many different Missouri wildlife creatures including butterflies and birds, yet deer leave it alone.
Pawpaw trees, Asimina triloba and the other Asimina species are also the only host plants to the exquisite Missouri native Zebra Swallowtail butterfly. Zebra Swallowtail females lay their eggs on young Pawpaw leaves. The leaves and stems of Pawpaws are rich in chemicals that make the foliage unpalatable to deer and rabbits, and make the Zebra Swallowtail caterpillars distasteful to potential predators.
Pawpaw Trees grow 15-20′ tall. They spread by root suckers and will form colonies or thickets if given space. Its large, drooping elliptical 6-12″ long leaves will give the landscape a tropical look. In fall its foliage turns bright yellow.
The oldest fruit tree native to North America, Pawpaws were so adored by Thomas Jefferson he planted a grove at his beloved Monticello. Pawpaw fruits are usually eaten raw. Never eat its skin and seeds. Ripened Pawpaw fruit can only hold for 2-3 days at room temperature, or can be stored for a longer time in the refrigerator.
Pawpaw Trees are easily grown in average to fertile, moist, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. It will grow in shade but becomes leggy.
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