Scientific Name:Asimina triloba
About this Herb:Asimina triloba is a large shrub or small tree growing to a height of 35 feet (11 m) (rarely to 45 feet or 14 m) with a trunk 8 to 12 inches (20–30 cm) or more in diameter. The large leaves of pawpaw trees are clustered symmetrically at the ends of the branches, giving a distinctive imbricated appearance to the tree's foliage. The leaves are 10 to 12 inches (25–30 cm) long, 4 to 5 inches (10–13 cm) broad, and when fully grown they are smooth, dark green above, and paler beneath with a prominent midrib and primary veins. When bruised, the leaves have a disagreeable odor similar to a green bell pepper.
The fruit of the pawpaw is a large, yellowish-green to brown berry, 2 to 6 in (5–16 cm) long and 1 to 3 in (3–7 cm) broad, weighing from 0.7 to 18 oz. (20–500 g), containing several brown seeds 1/2 to 1 in (15–25 mm) in diameter embedded in the soft, edible fruit pulp. The conspicuous fruit are initially green, maturing by September or October to yellow or brown. When mature, the fruit will give when gently squeezed, like a ripe peach.
The Pawpaw is the largest edible fruit that is native to the United States. Pawpaw’s are indigenous to 26 states in the U.S., in a range extending from northern Florida to southern Ontario and as far west as eastern Nebraska. They have provided delicious and nutritious food for Native Americans, European explorers, settlers, and wild animals. They are still being enjoyed in modern America, chiefly in rural areas. There are 27 varieties currently available from more than 50 commercial nurseries in the U.S.
The unique flavor of the fruit resembles a blend of various tropical flavors, including banana, pineapple, and mango. The flavor and custard-like texture make Pawpaw’s a good substitute for bananas in almost any recipe.
Fully ripe Pawpaw’s last only a few days at room temperature, but may be kept for a week in the refrigerator. If fruit is refrigerated before it is fully ripe, it can be kept for up to three weeks, and can then be allowed to finish ripening at room temperature. Ripe pawpaw flesh, with skin and seeds removed, can be pureed and frozen for later use. Some people even freeze whole fruits.
Common Names:Poor Man’s Banana, Common Pawpaw, Wild Banana, Prairie Banana, Indiana Banana, Hoosier Banana, West Virginia Banana, Kansas Banana, Kentucky Banana, Michigan Banana, Missouri Banana, Ozark Banana, Banango
Uses:Pawpaw’s are very nutritious fruits. They are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. They are a good source of potassium and several essential amino acids, and they also contain significant amounts of riboflavin, niacin, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. Pawpaw’s contain these nutrients in amounts that are generally about the same as or greater than those found in bananas, apples, or oranges.
Due to the Pawpaw tree’s cytotoxic and pesticide properties, every part but the fruit may be toxic to humans.