Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
This page was prepared as part of a class project for ENT 4987, Arthropod Management in Fruit Crops.
II. Characteristicsof the Pawpaw: The
is a deciduous tree which requires little pruning to maintain its
It grows to a height of about 20 feet. The tree produces a maroon
in the axils of the last year's leaves. The flowers are about 2 inches
across and bloom occurs between March and May depending upon cultivar
climactic conditions. Each flower is capable of producing several
because the flower contains several ovaries. The leaves
of the pawpaw are dark green and oblong and can reach 1 foot in length!
They turn yellow in autumn and the tree leafs out again in the spring
bloom. The fruit
is the largest fruit native to America. The fruits can weigh up to 16
and are up to 6 inches in length (the fruit size and weight does vary
Pawpaw trees are hardy to USDA climate zone 5. During the winter months the tree enters a deep dormancy. The roots as well are dormant, rare among deciduous trees, so transplanting should be done in the spring after the tree has broken its dormancy, otherwise damage to the roots may result in fungal infections and root rot. Transplanting can be trickey as pawpaws have extremely long taproots. Nurseries often offer seed;ings or grafted named cultivars. Chose plants that have been raised in a container, this way the integrity of the taproot is reasonably ensured.
Pawpaws must be cross pollinated for fruit to
Plant at least two trees with different genotypes (ie. two different
or seeds from two different trees). Pollination is carried out by flies
and beetles. Bees seem to be uninterested in the flowers of the pawpaw.
Pawpaws are easily propagated by grafting, but softwood and hardwood
are difficult to root. Pawpaws may be grown from seed, provided the
are properly stratified.
For more on growing Pawpaws:
planting guide 1,
IV. Pests: The pawpaw tree has few pests.
Asimina spp. are the larval host for the
Swallowtail, Eurytides marcellus (Cramer) (IFAS , USGS
links). North of
Florida, Asimina triloba is the exclusive host for the
The caterpillar rarely feeds on the foliage in numbers great enough to
reduce the yield.
The pawpaw peduncle
plummeriana, may be the most
severe pest (USNM image). The larvae, which reach a length
of 5 mm, feed in fleshy parts of the flower, causing flowers to drop.
A leafrolling caterpillar, Ompalocera
munroei, can be damaging to young trees (Blossom
An FAO site lists pawpaw fruit fly (or papaya fruit fly), Toxotrypana curvicauda (USDA web page, image), as a pest in Florida and Venezuela, pawpaw whitefly (or papaya whitefly), Trialeuroides variabilis, and a spider mite, Tetranychus seximaculatus, are listed as pests as well. Several closely related species of hornworms (Sphingidae) may feed on foliate (Erinnyis obscura in Jamaica, E. ello in Venezuela, E. alope in Florida).
Other predators of the fruit include raccons,
foxes and mice. Deer, rabbits, and goats do not feed on leaves and
This may be due to the anti-cancer
pesticidal properties of the leaves and twigs.
NPR radio, on April 16, 2001, ran a story on the pawpaw tree being a possible replacement crop for tobacco.
|Kentucky State Unversity
probably the best website for Pawpaw information.
Care to go to a pawpaw festival? The information is HERE. Also a great place for Pawpaw products.
List of weblinks.