USDA Hardiness Zones 5-8 Common Name: Paw Paw, Papaw, Poor Man's Banana, Hoosier Banana, Custard Apple, etc.
Growth Habit: The pawpaw is a deciduous, often narrowly conical tree growing from about 12 feet to around 20 feet. Pawpaw trees are prone to producing root suckers a few feet from the trunk. Medium growth rate. Foliage: The dark green, obovate-oblong, drooping leaves grow up to 12 inches long, giving the pawpaw an interesting tropical appearance. The leaves turn yellow and begin to fall in mid-autumn and leaf out again in late spring after the tree has bloomed.
Flowers: Dormant, velvety, dark brown flower buds develop in the axils of the previous years' leaves. They produce maroon, upside-down flowers up to 2 inches across. The normal bloom period consists of about 6 weeks during March to May depending on variety, latitude and climatic conditions. The blossom consists of 2 whorls of 3 petals each, and the calyx has 3 sepals. Each flower contains several ovaries which explains why a single flower can produce multiple fruits. Fruit: The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit native to America. Individual fruits weigh 5 to 16 ounces and are 3 to 6 inches in length. The larger sizes will appear plump, similar to the mango. The fruit usually has 10 to 14 seeds in two rows. The brownish to blackish seeds are shaped like lima beans, with a length of 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches. Pawpaw fruits often occur as clusters of up to nine individual fruits. The ripe fruit is soft and thin skinned. Starting from seed, a pawpaw tree normally will begin flowering and fruiting in 4-8 years.
Health benefits: The ripe pawpaw fruits are rich in vitamins A, B and C. Vitamin A is good for eyesight, Vitamin B for the nerves and muscles while Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps fight against illnesses. Pawpaw also has other medicinal properties Propagation: To break dormancy Pawpaw seed must receive a 90 to 120 day cold stratification. To accomplish this, the seed should be placed in plastic freezer zipper bag containing a handful of moist sphagnum moss and refrigerated at 32° - 40° F. The over wintering of field planted seeds normally accomplishes this stratification requirement.
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