Recently I went on a nature walk with Reed Patterson in the West Branch Nature Preserve. Beavers are reshaping the land there! Because it was late summer there were some interesting things hanging from some trees. They were the fruit of the Pawpaw tree. You don’t find pawpaws in the grocery store and except for the folk song most of us know little about pawpaws.
Pawpaws grow in the forest along stream banks or in the understory. The trees grow to about 25 feet tall. The leaves are large- 6 to 12 inches- and drooping. Pawpaw flowers in spring with a maroon bell-shaped flower. The fruit appears in late summer in clusters. They are mango-shaped and 4 to 6 inches long. The fruit turns yellow when ripe and then quickly turns dark.
Wild animals love to eat pawpaw, and you may enjoy it too. There are a lot of seeds but a nice banana-like flavor. Some people call it the banana custard fruit. Walk through the woods and look for these fleshy fruit in late summery/early fall – but hurry, the raccoons are hunting them too!
Read More About Pawpaw Trees
Here are a couple of links to more information.
What’s a Pawpaw Tree? [Southern Living]
The Pawpaw: Foraging For America’s Forgotten Fruit [NPR: September 29 2011]