Pawpaw



  1. What is a pawpaw?
  2. How big does the tree get?
  3. Why do I need two trees?
  4. How should I care for my pawpaw tree during the first year after planting?
  5. How long will it take for my pawpaw tree to bear fruit?
  6. How do pawpaws taste?
  7. When is harvest season for this fruit?
  8. How can I tell if my pawpaws are ripe?
  9. What is the nutritional value of this fruit?
  10. How do I eat this fruit? 
  11. Will pawpaws withstand cold temperatures? 

 

Click here for more information on how you can plant a pawpaw in your yard with LEAF.

 


 

1. What is a pawpaw? Pawpaw Plant

  • The pawpaw is the largest fruit-bearing tree species native to North America. It is the only temperate species in a family of tropical fruits. Its range spreads from the eastern edges of Texas, to Florida, and all the way up to southern Ontario. The pawpaw is now a little-known species that was once a staple in the diet of European settlers before apples and other traditional fruit were brought over for cultivation. It was documented by many famous icons of history: Lewis and Clarke relied on the pawpaw to get them through times when supplies ran low; it was the favourite dessert of George Washington; and Thomas Jefferson planted pawpaw trees at his home in Virginia.

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2. How big does the tree get?

  • In natural conditions, pawpaw trees can get up to 25 feet tall. In an urban setting, the trees should range between 15 and 20 feet high.

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3. Why do I need two trees?Pawpaw

  • Pawpaws are picky about who pollinates their flowers. Many fruit trees are self-fertile, meaning they can use pollen from one flower to pollinate another flower on the same tree to produce fruit. Pawpaws require pollen from another (genetically different) tree to achieve pollination and fruiting – much like humans require different DNA. Furthermore, pawpaws are not pollinated by bees. Instead, beetles and flies are attracted to their flowers and spread the pollen. Because of this, you must have two trees growing within 10-15 feet of each other.

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4. How should I care for my pawpaw tree during the first year after planting?

  • Pawpaw trees are naturally an understorey species, meaning that they do not do well in full sun (more than 6 hours of direct sun per day) when they are young. This means that the tree should either be planted in locations with part sun (2-6 hours of sun per day) or, during the first year (when the tree is establishing itself), a small screen should be erected to protect the tree from the majority of the sunlight. Once established, the pawpaw can handle anything from full sun to full shade.
  • Weeds can also pose a problem for pawpaw trees. It is best practice to keep any weeds more than 1 ½ feet from the base of the tree to prevent competition. Keeping the tree well mulched will help with this.
  • It is also very important to follow proper watering practices, especially while the tree is establishing itself. Watering twice per week (as needed) and three times per week (when it gets hot) on a slow drip at the tree base for 15 minutes is necessary for the success of your pawpaw tree.

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5. How long will it take for my pawpaw tree to bear fruit?

  • It will take 4-8 years for a pawpaw to produce fruit from seed. Since LEAF's pawpaw trees are approximately 3 feet in height at the time of delivery, this means it could take anywhere from 2-6 years for your trees to produce fruit.

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6. What do pawpaws taste like?Pawpaw fruit

  • Pawpaws are said to taste like a mixture of banana and mango (some say with a taste of pineapple). Consistency of the fruit ranges from that of custard to that of an avocado, depending on how ripe they are.

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7. When is harvest season for this fruit?

  • In Ontario, the harvest season will take place at some point between September and late October.

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8. How can I tell if my pawpaws are ripe?

  • It is best to determine ripeness from the feel of the fruit instead of the colour. When pawpaws are ripe the fruit will give at the touch, much like a ripe peach, and there will be indentations left from your hands. Like raspberries, they will come off the tree easily when picked (if ripe) and have a nice aroma to them. Colour change is not necessarily the best identifying feature, but often the ripe fruit will get yellow/black like a banana.

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9. What is the nutritional value of this fruit?

  • Pawpaws are full of antioxidants and vitamin C. One pawpaw fruit has twice as much vitamin C as one apple!

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10. How do I eat this fruit?

  • Pawpaws can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: cut up, fresh off the tree, or turned into pulp (by pressing through a colander) and used in recipes. Pawpaws are an easy substitution for bananas in any recipe. Just be sure to avoid eating the skin and seeds.

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11. Will pawpaws withstand cold temperatures?

  • As the pawpaw is a native tree species of the temperate climate zones of North America, it requires warm to hot summers, mild to cold winters and roughly 80cm (32 inches) of annual rainfall, with the majority falling throughout the spring and summer. That said, the pawpaw is hardy between temperatures of -9°C (15°F) and -25°C (-15°F), meaning that it can withstand the cold temperatures of a southern Ontario winter.

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