Text Size: A  A  A

Paw Paw

Asimina triloba

Paw paws have distinctive yellowish-green, mango-like fruits that grow in September-October. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
{photos} {photo} {title} - {description} {/photo} {/photos}
Paw paws have distinctive yellowish-green, mango-like fruits that grow in September-October. (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

The paw paw is a small, deciduous tree with large, long leaves and distinctive green, mango-like fruits. It grows in rich, moist forested areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Appearance:

  • Long, pear-shaped leaves with pointed tips
  • Leaves have fine, white hairs on top and rusty-colored hairs on the bottom
  • Leaves turn yellow in autumn
  • Small, maroon flowers with velvety petals bloom in April-May
  • Yellowish-green, mango-like fruits grow in September-October
  • Grows to 35 feet tall

Habitat:

  • Grows in rich, moist areas such as river valleys and the understory of hardwood forests
  • Forms small colonies

Range:

  • Grows throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Usually reproduces asexually when roots bud and form new shoots. This is why paw paws often form small colonies.
  • Can also reproduce sexually. Each fruit contains 10-14 brown, lima bean-shaped seeds that are spread by animals.

Other Facts:

  • Listed as a threatened species in New York
  • Paw paw fruits are the largest edible fruits native to the United States
  • Leaves smell like green bell peppers when crushed
  • Attracts small mammals such as raccoons, squirrels and opossums, which feast on the tree’s abundant fruits. In addition, zebra swallowtail butterfly larvae feed exclusively on paw paw leaves.
  • Many Native American tribes ate paw paw fruits, mashing them to make small cakes or drying them in the sun to store for winter. They valued the tree so much that they spread it throughout much of the eastern U.S.
  • Fruits are sometimes referred to as Indian bananas or custard bananas

Sources and Additional Information:




Click tabs to swap between type and habitat.

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
Directions to the Bay Program Office
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
©2012 Chesapeake Bay Program | All Rights Reserved