Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 17, 2017 18:30:39 GMT -6
when I was just a kid growing up, my Grandma Fannie, who was born in Starville, Arkansas on March 21st of 1898 said to me, "If there's one thing I miss about Arkansas, it's the Pawpaw trees we had there."
I had never even seen a Pawpaw tree before and couldn't imagine what they were... A few years ago, my Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law took a trip to Missouri and brought back a single Pawpaw seedling for me to plant. It was a wild Pawpaw, raised from a seed (not a grafted variety). It was about as big around as a pencil and about a foot tall.
Now, it is about 20 feet tall and is loaded with fruit.
Since the time of its planting, I have planted several more Pawpaw trees. Many have died over the years, due to drought or deer, but four of them have survived. I have two grafted varieties. A couple Wells variety Pawpaw trees, and one Shenandoah. The fourth tree is the one wild variety grown from a seed.
The wild tree grows an abundance of Pawpaws each year all about as big as hen eggs. The grafted varieties grow fewer fruits but they are much bigger and of better quality.
I had one KSU Atwwods variety pawpaw tree, but deer killed it so I never got to see the fruit.
Below, is a photo of the Shenandoah Pawpaw fruit I found growing this morning after the rain had passed. It is not ripe yet, but it won't be too much longer now.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 17, 2017 18:40:27 GMT -6
Here is a photo of a couple of Wells variety pawpaws I saw this morning. They are not quite as large as the Shenandoah pawpaws but the Wells variety trees are so branchy that I can't imagine that there won't be a lot more of them in years to come.
These Wells variety pawpaw fruits should be ripe by early September. My wild variety from Missouri is ripening already.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 20, 2017 11:49:31 GMT -6
After Church this afternoon, there were pawpaws laying everywhere!!! I guess we must have had some high winds last night? A lot of the pawpaws were badly damaged. I probably fed a dozen of them to the pigs and still managed to pick up several more for the house. A couple of them were bigger than the biggest apple I've ever seen. There are a few huge pawpaws still on the trees.
I'll have to watch them more carefully, I didn't realize they were so close to being ripe. I'm fairly sure they didn't ripen until September last year, but I may be wrong? This year, the crazy weather has made my harvest times very unreliable.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 21, 2017 8:50:28 GMT -6
I haven't tasted anything since my sinus surgery back in 2013
However, my Wife and kids tell me the pawpaws taste like a cross between a mango and a banana. They like them a lot. Good thing too, because I just gathered another bunch of them this morning, Pawpaws have a very short shelf life. The largest pawpaw in this photo weighs 8 ounces, so they are decent size fruits. the seeds in the photo came from one pawpaw (just to give you an idea how seedy they are) they have a lot of seeds but have way more meat than a persimmon. The flesh is hard to describe. You can eat it with a spoon. It's firmer than a banana and moister than a banana but not as firm as a mango.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 21, 2017 10:20:48 GMT -6
A Brief History of the Pawpaw Tree:
Pawpaw trees are an endangered species and as such, are very hard to find in most States, due to the deforestation of North America.
Pawpaws are typically an under story tree, found growing from the forest floor in subdued sunlight. Young pawpaw trees cannot tolerate prolonged periods of direct sunlight and therefore are unable to repopulate an area where the parent trees have been cleared for pasture or for urban development. As a result, the original native stands of pawpaw trees that once lined our river banks from Northern Florida all the way to Southern Canada are almost non-existent.
In fact if not for the diligence of a few wise country folk through the 8 decades passed since the Great Depression, we probably would not have many of these native trees left. Pawpaw seedlings out in the open must be grown under a shade cloth for the first two years of their existence. (I use burlap coffee bean sacks staked out between three rebars placed on the South and West sides of each seedling for the first two years after I plant them).
The pawpaw trees bear more heavily if planted in full sunlight but must be protected from direct light for the first two years of their life, until they are old enough to tolerate full sunlight. That makes them kind of tricky to get much fruit production from. (That's partly why I enjoy growing them so much. I like the challenge).
Pawpaw trees grown in the shade are usually healthier looking than pawpaw trees grown in full sun but trees grown in the shade tend to bear very little fruit. Sunlight acts as a signal to the mature trees that there is open land nearby that needs to be populated by more pawpaw trees, so those trees grown in full sun produce more fruit. Shade acts as a signal to the mature trees that there is heavy competition for sunlight and fruit production slows down.
If maintained properly, pawpaw trees can be very rewarding. This is because pawpaw trees bear the largest fruit of any native tree in North America and are the only member of the tropical Annonaceae family to grow in this part of the world. The pawpaw has a long history in the United States; it was apparently enjoyed by both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It was eaten by Lewis and Clark on their journeys as well.
During the Great Depression, the pawpaw was frequently consumed as a substitute for other fruits and was dubbed the “poor man’s banana”. My grandma Fannie spoke longingly of these fruits in her old age. She was born in Starville, Arkansas on March 21st of 1898. She pronounced the name of this place as, "Star villee" It was near Ben Hur, Arkansas and can no longer be found on modern-day maps. I never got to see a pawpaw tree during her lifetime, and never even knew what this 'mystery fruit' from Arkansas looked like back then, but now, I grow them for the great memories they tend to evoke.
The pawpaw is native to Eastern North America and grows from Northern Florida to Southern Canada and as far west as the States of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. They typically grow in forested areas, where they can be found in the understory near riverbeds. Pawpaws require plenty of water to sustain their large leaves but don't tolerate swamps or standing water.
The fruit of the pawpaw was a component of the Eastern American Indian's diet; indeed, the Shawnee even had a “pawpaw month” dedicated to the fruit in their calendar (Austin).
The fruit was often etymologically confused with the papaya by Europeans and early settlers, and also showed a discrepancy of names. The first mention of the pawpaw dates to Hernando de Soto’s 1540 Mississippi expedition, where a fellow traveler noted the fruit being cultivated by American Indians (Staub).
Pawpaw trees tend to be smaller than other trees (less than 30 feet high) and often grow in patches. They are tropical in appearance, with long, dark green, drooping leaves that can stretch up to a foot long and up to 6" inches wide. When grown in the sun, they often assume a pyramid-like shape. Pawpaw trees lend themselves well to urban landscaping because of their small stature and pruned appearance. Not to mention the fruits are of excellent quality.
The pawpaw’s small flowers have three lobes and are a dark brownish maroon color when mature. The pawpaw blossoms' fragrance mimics rotting flesh. These blossoms are pollinated by flies, not by honey bees. I always enjoy getting a newcomer to smell one of these flowers as I have not been able to smell anything since 2013, I'll take a blossom in hand, take a deep, longing, whiff and say, "Mmm, smells like cherries!" Inevitably, the person I am with will take a whiff as well
The large fruit of the pawpaw is somewhat bean-shaped and can reach up to 6 inches in length and weigh a little over one pound, but this is highly unusual. Most fruits are much smaller, though it is not unusual to find fruit weighing 6 or 8 ounces.
The smooth skin of the pawpaw fruits ripen from a soft green to a bruised-looking yellow and sometimes grow in small clusters on the trees. The clusters have a many fingered appearance as young fruit sets. However, normally all but one fruit per cluster will abort as the season progresses, leaving only the best and healthiest fruit to produce seeds.
The pawpaw's flesh is creamy-yellow, custard-like, and fragrant. The pawpaw fruit has a pleasant aroma and a very sweet taste, somewhere between banana, mango, pineapple, and pear. Because of its wide range, the pawpaw found its way into many American Indian diets. It is believed that the American Indians planted and cultivated the pawpaw. The Iroquois mashed the fruit into small, dried cakes or dried the fruit by itself. The dried cakes were sometimes soaked in water and used as a sauce or mixed with cornbread (Moerman). Some people use the pawpaw fruit to flavor ice cream.
Pawpaws are usually eaten raw by peeling away the skin and discarding the many seeds, but can also be used in breads, sweets, ices, and as a substitute for mangoes or bananas in baking.
The Cherokee used the bark of the pawpaw to make ropes and string, which was sometimes used to string fish (Moerman; Austin). Tribes have used the seeds as a powder to deter head lice. Currently, there are studies being made using the pawpaw leaf to deter insects. I am currently researching the effectiveness of using green pawpaw leaves to deter squash bugs, as I have yet to find a squash bug eating a pawpaw tree. To do this, I am placing one or more green pawpaw leaves under each squash and will check each morning to see if the squash bugs have left that particular squash.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this, and that maybe in this writing I have sparked the interest in some individual in such a way that they might try planting a pawpaw tree of their own someday.
My wife's grandparents, who lived in Salem, Illinois, had pawpaw trees, both on the old homestead and in front of their home. We enjoyed the fruit. I tried to grow them on our place in Tahlequah and they died. But Ron just taught me about having to give them shade for the first two years. So, I'm going to give it another try. The trees have a very tropical look about them, being quite attractive. If one can get them growing and keep them alive, they have great potential.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 22, 2017 18:22:12 GMT -6
Pawpaw trees are an understory plant, so they need shade for the first two years of their life.
For shade, I use the big coffee bean sacks they sell at Atwoods. Sometimes they go on sale for .99c each. I use 3 pieces of rebar driven into the ground to form a two-sided shelter and hang one coffee bean sack on the South side and one sack on the West side of each pawpaw sapling, in "V" pattern. It takes 3 rebars and 2 sacks per sapling. I leave the sacks hanging between the rebars until they rot off (which takes about two years).
I put tomato cages around the small trees so deer won't eat them. One year, I had just removed the cages and my baby trees got buck rubbed, so I started leaving the cages on for several years after that.
That is some very interesting information, Ron. Thank you for taking the time to post it. I don't have a paw paw tree myself but I have seen them before. They have a beautiful, unusual look to them. It's interesting that you mention the shade is helpful to them. It makes sense. The best yielding nicest looking specimens usually occur in full sun. This statement is generally true among many other species too. Rhododendrons, Mt Laurel, dogwood etc are all understory plants by nature, but the fullest heaviest flowering specimens are always in full sun.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 23, 2017 20:18:28 GMT -6
You're right John. I never thought about that before. Now that you mention it, there are quite a few understory plants like dogwood, that do better in full sun after they are mature but don't do so good in full sun when they are small.
Post by heavyhitterokra on Aug 24, 2017 9:33:12 GMT -6
I went for a walk early this morning out by the garden, which is about 500' feet South of our house. We have a lot of wildlife that far from the house, so I've been watching one particularly big pawpaw for the last three days, waiting for it to get ripe and fall off the tree. This morning, it was laying on the ground. Thankfully, no coons, deer, or squirrels found it.
When I brought it in, I placed it on the kitchen scale, it weighs eleven ounces. Not too shabby for the first few fruits of an 8' foot tall tree that I got through mail order not many years ago.
This Pawpaw is from a Shenandoah variety Pawpaw tree. I wish I could taste, so I'd be able to let you know what that was like. Oh well... I'm sure the Wife and kids will enjoy it.
Yesterday I ate the pawpaw you gave me. It was DELICIOUS! Reminded me of a mango, yet milder. I got 11 seeds from it and put them in a damp paper towel, in a plastic bag, in the fridge. I plan to put them in damp peat moss, in the fridge. Can't wait to plant them!