Friday, April 2, 2010

Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch

Pickin' up paw paws, put 'em in your pockets,
Pickin' up paw paws, put 'em in your pockets,
Pickin' up paw paws, put 'em in your pockets,
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.

Every year, I try to grow something new. In the garden, something new equals something fun, in my book.  It may be something that stretches my gardening muscles by having a reputation for being difficult to grow, which is why I continue to attempt to grow Himalayan Blue Poppies.  It might be something that pushes the envelope of my zone 5b, like 'Kent Beauty' ornamental oregano, which I'm happy to say is alive and well after its first winter in my garden.

This year, my "fun" thing is the planting of two Paw Paw trees.  When the thought entered my mind, the folk song wasn't far behind.  I hadn't thought about that one for decades.  I didn't even know what a Paw Paw was back when I sang it and I didn't know what it was when I decided to order a couple and grow them either!

Paw Paws (Asimina triloba) are the only edible fruit native to the state of Ohio and was named its official native fruit in 2009. They are the largest tree fruit native to the United States and grow in fertile river bottom land, often in clumps.  They can be anywhere from 15-30 feet in height.  Blooms appear before leaves in the spring and the leaves take on a beautiful golden color in the fall.

 Paw Paw Fruit

Ripe fruit tastes like a combination of banana and mango, with the texture of an avocado, and is used in desserts or eaten fresh when fully ripe. It is borne singly or in clusters.

Here's another great reason for growing it - it's the exclusive larval host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly!

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Because they aren't self-pollinating, two trees are needed in order to produce fruit. Of course we want fruit, so we planted two Paw Paws on Wednesday, just north of the new apple trees.  When our fruit trees get a little size to them, we're going to have us some good eats!

Photo credits: Paw Paw leaves - Purdue University, Paw Paw Fruit and Zebra Swallowtail - Wikipedia Commons.


Ewa said...

Great expectation - until you get some fruits :) cross my fingers for you.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Where did you order your paw paws from? I want some too. I want Zebra Swallowtails in my garden. :) When I was a child there was someone in our neighborhood that had them and made something with the pawpaws. I just can't quite dig out of my memory bank just what it was. I love to find them in the woods. They will be a delight to have.

Gail said...

I've wanted to grow this tree for ever..Especially since I remember clearly Captain Kangaroo picking up imaginary paw-paws! Oh to have the deep soil a tree like this needs! Hoping your weekend is sweet.


Darla said...

This is going to be fun...I love gardening challenges too!

Andrew said...

I planted three paw paws last year! They were just whips, but they did pretty well considering, and I'm anxious to see how much they grow this year. UNfortunately, I have to fend off winter moth, else my babies get defoliated. Keep us posted on yours!

Jean Campbell said...

I hope you get lots of Zebra Swallowtails with a paw paw as a magnet.

I have Asimina parviflora, a native paw paw here commonly called Dog Banana. I leave the fruits to the critters. I didn't think them tasty.

I've never seen any caterpillars but I've seen Zebras hovering around the paw paw. They nectar at nearby lantana.

Sabrina said...

We've got a couple paw-paws in our sunny border. The huge leaves make a nice contrast and provide some vertical interest. I like the spring flowers, like inverted purple tulips. We had fruit the first year, but picked one too early, and it was really too hard to enjoy. By the time the rest were ripe enough, the deer had discovered them. And last year they didn't fruit -- maybe the pollinators weren't out soon enough? Anyway, maybe this year...

Dirty Girl Gardening said...

I've never grown these but they look fabulous.

Unknown said...

I've never seen a pawpaw plant, nor tasted the fruit, so I'm quite fascinated. I hope they do very well for you, Kylee!

Anonymous said...

Paw paws grow well here in western PA too. And I bet you didn't that denizens of the Bluegrass State call them Kentucky banana trees. (Personally, I don't think they taste at all like how you hear them described.)

Heather said...

Not only do you need two paw paw trees to get fruit, the trees cannot be genetically related. We have been in so many midwestern forests and seen huge patches of paw paw trees without any fruit growing and figure they must have all been closely enough related that they cannot fertilize each other.

Hope you get lots of fruit!

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I don't think we have Paw Paws. They are lovely...

Anonymous said...

Hazel from OK
Paw-Paw trees will fruit with only one tree. I have one and it is full of fruit right now and has always fruited for the six years I've had it. It is a beautiful tree and the blooms are very unique. The shape is almost like a Bradford Pear.

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