Pawpaw, West Virginia Banana, Indiana Banana - Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal
Fruit section
Fig. 1

Common pawpaw
Fig. 2
Asimina triloba is often called wild banana or prairie banana because of its banana-like creamy texture and flavor

Fig. 3

Common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) leaf habit
Fig. 4 magnifying glass
Common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) leaf habit

Austrieb an einer Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) im Botanischen Garten Berlin
Fig. 7 magnifying glass
Austrieb an einer Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) im Botanischen Garten Berlin

Asimina triloba
Fig. 8 magnifying glass

Common pawpaw flowers and pollinator
Fig. 9 magnifying glass
Common pawpaw flowers and pollinator

A small developing fruit. It is still to early to tell whether this is fertile. It still may be dropped from the tree at this point
Fig. 13 magnifying glass
A small developing fruit. It is still to early to tell whether this is fertile. It still may be dropped from the tree at this point

Pawpaw growing along the C&O canal
Fig. 14 magnifying glass
Pawpaw growing along the C&O canal

Perfect pawpaw
Fig. 15 magnifying glass
Perfect pawpaw

Pawpaw seeds
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Young Asimina triloba: Pawpaw
Fig. 18 magnifying glass
Young Asimina triloba: Pawpaw

Pawpaw distribution range
Fig. 22 magnifying glass
Pawpaw distribution range

Pawpaw, 'Custard Apple', Aimina tribola
Fig. 23 magnifying glass
Pawpaw, 'Custard Apple', Asimina tribola

Scientific name
Asimina triloba
uh-SIM-min-nuh try-LOE-buh 11
Common names
Indiana banana, hoosier banana, poor man's banana, custard apple, dog banana, false banana, pawpaw apple, fetid shrub 10
Asimina cuneata, Pityothamnus reticulatus
Asimina incarna, A. longifolia, A. obovata, A. parviflora, A. pygmaea, A. reticulata, A. tetramera, A. X nashii
Native to North America
USDA hardiness zones
5A through 8B 11
Edible landscaping; used as a screen or can be grown in a container as a specimen tree 10
10-20 ft (3.48-6.09 m)
15-20 ft (4.57-6.09 m)
Pyramidal shape; symmetrical; upright/erect 11
Plant habit
Dwarf shrub or small tree
Growth rate
Droop as the tree grows, multiple trunks, no thorns
Pruning requirement
Other than removal of the 'suckers', it does not require pruning
Deciduous; simple; alternate, oblong, obovate, 8-12 in. (20.32-30.48 cm), 4-8 in. (10.16- 20.32 cm) 11
Purple, inconspicuous, spring; protogynous, needs pollen from a genetically different tree
4-5 in. (10.16-12.7 cm) long; custard smooth white to apricot flesh
July to September
Light requirement
Young trees require shade, part shade/part sun; full sun or dense shade but will have denser growth in the sun 11
Soil tolerances
Needs acidic soil
PH preference
Drought tolerance
Aerosol salt tolerance
Soil salt tolerance
Cold tolerance
Highly frost tolerant; -25° F (-31.67°C) or lower; requires a minimum of 400 hours of winter chill and at least 160 frost-free days 4
Plant spacing
15-20 ft (4.57- 6.09 m)
Tap root makes it difficult to transplant
Invasive potential *
Little if any
Pest resistance
No pests or diseases are of major concern
Known hazard
Some people have a very severe allergic reaction to pawpaws 6
Fruit/leaves a litter problem 11

Reading Material

Asimina triloba: Pawpaw from the University of Florida pdf
Pawpaw (Asimina triloba): A "Tropical" Fruit for Temperate Climates from New Crops Purdue University
The Challenge of Pawpaws in the Subtropics from Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council
Pawpaw Description and Nutritional Information from the Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension
Pawpaw from Purdue University Center for New Crops & Products
Pawpaw from Just Fruits & Exotics Nursery
Pawpaw from the California Rare Fruit Growers Inc.
Pawpaw Plant Guide from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service pdf

This plant is not recommended for South Florida

" I came across your website which is really a wonderful source of information on the pawpaw. I have not been able to find information on a specific cultivar that would grow in our area but I have heard from Har Mahdeem that it is his favorite annona; I assume he grows them on the East Coast. If you could share any information on pawpaws that we could grow in Southwest Florida, I would be most appreciative." Liette
"In answer to your question: Asimina triloba will not survive in your climate. It is too far south for it; too hot w/ intense sun in the summer; too little chilling hours in the winter. I have only heard of failure with A. triloba south of Ocala. It is true that pawpaw is a favorite annona of
Har Mahdeem but I did not see him growing it when I visited. Of course, that was many years ago." Neal Peterson (April 2011)

Neal Peterson's Breeding Program
The History of the Peterson Pawpaws
The Pawpaw and Its Relatives from Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council
Pawpaws are Possible in Florida from Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council


The pawpaw is the only temperate member of the tropical Annonaceae family and is the largest tree fruit native to the United States. Pawpaws grow wild in the rich, mesic hardwood forests of 25 states in the eastern United States ranging from northern Florida to southern Ontario (Canada) and as far west as eastern Nebraska. Pawpaws flourish in the deep, rich fertile soils of river-bottom lands where they grow as understory trees or thicket-shrubs. In addition to the tropical Annona relatives, there are eight members of the Asimina genus that are native to the extreme southeastern states of Florida and Georgia.
There are eight members of the Asimina genus that are native to the extreme southeastern states of Florida and Georgia. These include A. incana (flag pawpaw), A. longifolia, A. obovata, A. parviflora (dwarf pawpaw), A. pygmaea, A. reticulata, A. tetramera (opossum pawpaw), and A. X nashii. 3

The Pawpaw is one of this country's most over-looked fruits. Native to most parts of the United States, the Pawpaw thrives with little or no care. In sunny locations pawpaw trees typically assume a pyramidal habit, straight trunk and lush, dark green, long, drooping leaves that turn gold and brown in color during the fall. 3

TreeTrunk of young treeAsimina triloba close-up
Fig. 19 magnifying glass Fig. 20 magnifying glass Fig. 21 magnifying glass

The drooping, pear-shaped leaves are alternate, from 10 to 30 cm long, with smooth margins and pointed tips. The leaves are coated with fine whitish hairs on the upper surface with rustycolored hairs on the under-side. Leaves are aromatic, with a smell reminiscent of bell pepper. The deciduous leaves turn bright yellow before dropping in the fall. 10

Asimina trilobaAsimina triloba
Fig. 5 magnifying glass Fig. 6 magnifying glass

Inconspicuous but interesting flowers (4 to 5cm in diameter) with 3 sepals, are green upon opening and turn to dark purple or maroon in color. From 1 to 4 flowers grow in the leaf axils before leafing, usually in April or May. The six velvety petals (2cm-2.5cm long) are stiff and curl slightly backwards. 10

Asimina trilobaAsimina trilobaFlowers
Fig. 10 magnifying glass Fig. 11 magnifying glass Fig. 12 magnifying glass

Yellowish green to brown, cylindrical, mango-shaped fruits are 7-16 cm long and grow solitarily or 2 to 4 together. Fruits have a thin skin, which contain a yellow custard-like pulp that is said to taste like papaya. Some varieties contain a whitish-green pulp that is less flavorful. Fruits contain several flat 2cm long seeds. 10
The fruit of the pawpaw tree has a unique and complex flavor, resembling that of tropical fruit, and a pronounced aroma that is fruity and floral. High quality pawpaws compare favorably to pears, peaches, bananas, and mangos. 2
Pawpaws 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. Pawpaws contain these nutrients in amounts that are generally about the same as or greater than those found in bananas, apples, or oranges. 7

At least four cultivars of pawpaw are available commercially in the United States: Overleese, Taytwo, Mary (Foos) Johnson, and Sunflower. At least another six cultivars exist that may be obtained through amateur organizations such as the North American Fruit Explorers and Northern Nut Growers Association: Mitchell, Silver Creek, Rebecca’s Gold, Wilson, Taylor, and Davis. Known cultivars grafted onto seedling rootstocks offer the best possibility of obtaining good fruit quality. 2

Varieties Page
Pawpaw Variety Development: A History and Future Prospects by Neal R. Peterson pdf 6 pages

Ripe pawpaw fruits are easily picked, yielding to a gentle tug. Shaking the tree will make them fall off. (If you try this, don’t stand under the fruit clusters, and don’t say we didn’t warn you.) Ripeness can also be gauged by squeezing gently, as you would judge a peach. The flesh should be soft, and the fruit should have a strong, pleasant aroma. The skin color of ripe fruit on the tree ranges from green to yellow, and dark flecks may appear, as on bananas. The skin of picked or fallen fruit may darken to brown or black. 7

Pollination is the major limitation to pawpaw fruit set. The flowers are “protogynous,” meaning that the stigma (the female receptive organ) ripens before the pollen does and is no longer receptive when the pollen is shed. Thus, the flower’s design insures that the flower will not pollinate itself. In addition, pawpaw trees are usually self-incompatible, requiring pollen from a genetically different tree in order to be fertilized. Two or more genotypes are required for pollination and fruit set. Finally, the natural pollinators of the pawpaw (various species of flies and beetles) are neither efficient nor dependable. Although it requires a little extra labor, hand pollination can be well worth the effort. 2

Seed should be removed from the fruit, cleaned, and placed in a polyethylene bag with damp sphagnum moss and should not be allowed to dry out. Seed should be stratified at 2° to 4°C for 60 to 100 days before planting (Thomson 1982; USDA 1948). Seed should be planted about 2.5 cm deep. The depth of Rootrainer books, commonly used in the propagation of forest trees, is especially desirable because of pawpaw's long taproot. Once seedlings reach a height of 10 to 20 cm they can be transplanted into tall pots (10 x 10 x 36 cm) with partially open bottoms and placed on greenhouse benches. Taproots growing out the bottom of these pots are "air-pruned."
The most reliable and commonly used method of vegetative propagation is chip-budding. Root cuttings have been used successfully (USDA 1948), but softwood propagation methods (those using cuttings from soft, succulent, new growth) have not been satisfactorily developed. 1

Seedlings should be started in pots for several reasons. First, pawpaw seedlings are reported to be sensitive to ultraviolet light (Peterson 1991). However, following a season of growth in partial shade, they no longer seem to be affected by direct sunlight. Rather, they grow and produce better in full sun (Wilson and Schemske 1980). Second, pawpaws have a reputation of being difficult to transplant and this difficulty increases with plant size. Plants grown in containers to approximately 1 m in height before transplanting largely circumvent these problems. Finally, plants may reach bearing size sooner when grown in containers before transplanting to the field, since optimal growing conditions are often more easily provided to container-grown plants. 1

Growing Pawpaws from Purdue University Extension pdf 4 pages
Pawpaw Planting Guide from the Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension Program

The pawpaw is very difficult to transplant. It would seem natural to propagate a clone by transplanting root suckers, since pawpaws commonly sucker from the roots, but in practice this is extremely difficult and usually ends in failure. Seedling trees, on the other hand, have been successfully transplanted. Experience has shown that to be successful, seedlings should be transplanted in the spring, at the time that new growth commences or soon after. If many roots are damaged, it may be desirable to prune the top to bring it into balance with the remaining roots. While for many species a bare-root tree is sufficient for transplanting, it is not preferred for pawpaw. 2

This plant spreads quickly by suckers to form a “pawpaw patch.” Remove suckers as they form if a tree form is desired. Sucker formation slows as the tree develops. Other than control of suckers, the plants do not require pruning.  10             

Look for a fertilizer meant for Acid Loving trees and make sure the fertilizer contains iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, copper and boron. These minor elements are very important to plants and most soils are low in these elements. 5

Extra care should be given trees for the first two years to promote growth as the root system establishes itself. Keep the plants well watered and partially shaded for the first year or two. Thereafter, growth accelerates and trees require little care. 2

Pest Page

Food Uses
Delicious banana-like flavor is awesome. The fruit is eaten fresh or used in salads and for making custard pies and preserves.
Used like a banana, raw or cooked, as in baked desserts, ice cream, pastries, or in making beer. Don’t eat the skin and don’t eat the seeds. Chewed seeds will cause digestive problems, whole seed usually pass through. Try only a very little at first. 6

Pawpaws in the Kitchen from Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council

Medicinal Uses **
The leaves contain anticarcinogens. 10

Other Uses
The twigs and leaves contain extracts that have insecticidal properties. Opossum, raccoon, foxes and squirrels eat the fruits. Larvae of the lovely Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus) feed exclusively on the leaves. 10

The genus name Asimina is adapted from the Native American (probably Miami-Illinois) name assimin or rassimin through the French colonial asiminier. The epithet triloba in the species' scientific name refers to the flowers' three-lobed calices and doubly three-lobed corollas,the shape not unlike a tricorne hat. 9
The common name of this species is variously spelled pawpaw, paw paw, paw-paw, and papaw. It probably derives from the Spanish papaya, an American tropical fruit (Carica papaya) sometimes also called "papaw". 9
Pawpaw, see papaw (n.) 1620s, variant of papaya (q.v.), used from 1760 to designate the papaw tree. 8

Further Reading
Peterson's Pawpaw Website has a lot of useful information ext. link
Kentuky State University Pawpaw Website ext. link
Pawpaw Picking Up is Rare from G. Deane's Website Eat the Weeds and Other Things too
Organic Production of Pawpaw from the Kentucky State University Cooperative Extension pdf 6 pages
The Asimoya Asimina triloba from the Archives of the Rare Fruit Council
Pawpaw Botanical Art

List of Growers and Vendors

1 Callaway, M. Brett. "Pawpaw (Asimina triloba): A "Tropical" Fruit for Temperate Climates." p. 505-515. 1993. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

2 Bordelon, Bruce. "Growing Pawpaws." Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Reviewed Apr. 2001. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

3 Layne, Desmond R. "Pawpaw." New Crop Fact Sheet. 1995. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

4 "Pawpaw." 1969-1989. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

5 "Pawpaw." justfruitsand  Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

6 Deane, Green . "Pawpaw Picking Up is Rare."  Web. 26 Jan. 2015.

7 Jones, Snake C. and Layne, Desmond R. "Pawpaw Description and Nutritional Information." Pawpaw Research Project, Community Research Service, Atwood Research Facility, Frankfort, KY 40601-2355. Updated 9 Jan. 2009. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

8 "Pawpaw, papaw." Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.

9 "Asimina triloba." Web. 11 Apr. 2015.
10 Immel, Diana L. Pawoaw, Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal. USDA, NRCS, National Plant Data Center, c/o Environmental Horticulture Department, University of California, Davis, California. Edited 21 May 2001, 29 Apr. 2003, 31 May 2006. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.
11 Gilman, Edward F. and Watson, Dennis G. "Asimina triloba: Pawpaw." This document is ENH245, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date Nov. 1993. Revised Dec. 2006. Reviewed Feb. 2014. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.


Fig. 1 Manuel.conde. Pawpaw fruit. N.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Fig. Clarknova. Asimina triloba is often called wild banana or prairie banana because of its banana-like creamy texture and flavor. 2005.  Red Fern Farm in Wapello, Iowa. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 3 Mohlenbrock, Robert H. Asimina triloba. 1991.  USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. plantatlas.usf.eduWeb. 23 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 4 Anderson, James. Common pawpaw (Asimina triloba). 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 5 Denton, Sherley. Asimina triloba. Asimina triloba. N.d. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 6,19 Mark, W. and Reimer, J. Pawpaw, Asimina Triloba. N.d.  Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute. 26 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 7 Gummi, Robert. Austrieb an einer Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) im Botanischen Garten Berlin. 2005. Public domain at the German Wikipedia project. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 8,10,11 Bradley, Keith. Asimina triloba. N.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 9 NatureServe, Wolf, Alan. Common pawpaw flowers and pollinator. 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 12 Kenraiz, Krzysztof Ziarnek. Asimina triloba, flowers. 2010. Glinna Arboretum near Szczecin (NW Poland). Under GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 13 Wolf, Alan. A small developing fruit. It is still to early to tell whether this is fertile. It still may be dropped from the tree at this point. 2010.  Under (CC BY-NC 2.0). Web. 30 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 14 Crain, Alice. Pawpaw growing along the C&O canal. 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 15,17 Peterson, Neal. Asimina triloba. N.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2015.

Fig. 16 Hurst, Steve. Asimina triloba. 1991. USDA, NRCS. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 18 Gilman, Edward F. Young Asimina triloba: Pawpaw. N.d. University of Florida. Web. 29 Dec. 2016.

Fig. 20 Celerylady. Pawpaw tree. 2011. Asheville Botanical Gardens in wintertime. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 21 dogtooth77. Asimina triloba close up. 2008. Web. 28 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 22 Distribution Map of Asimina tribola. N.d. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.  Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Fig. 23 O'Brian, Robert. Pawpaw, Asimina Triloba. N.d. Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute. Web. 26 Feb. 2015.

UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas
** Information provided is not intended to be used as a guide for treatment of medical conditions.

Published 2013 LR. Last update 2 Mar. 2017 LR
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