It's amazing that this plant is so unknown! Pawpaw is an understory tree native to the eastern US whose other close relatives are native to the tropics. It is also a butterfly magnet in late April and early May when its deep brownish-purple flowers open up before its thick, long, tapered green leaves emerge. Better yet, it will be a perfect medium-sized tree in your landscape with an easy-care nature and a great story to tell!
Map Credit: The Biota of North America
Map Key: Green (native), Teal (native, adventive), Blue (present), Yellow (present & rare), Red (extinct)
It's a tree that fruits and was prized by colonists in America for its taste but is nearly forgotten today except by the various forest critters that love to harvest its large, cylindrical yellow to green colored fruit with the slightly banana-like flavor.
The wild fruit was once harvested, but the supply has now significantly decreased due to clearing forests. The small crop is generally consumed only by wildlife, such as opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and birds. Attempts have been made to cultivate Common Pawpaw as a fruit tree, first recorded by the DeSoto expedition in the lower Mississippi Valley in 1541. The name Common Pawpaw is from the Arawakan name of Papaya, an unrelated tropical American fruit. - Wildflower.org
For fruit production 2 or more trees will need to be planted. Single plantings will rarely produce fruit as they need cross-pollination. It makes a great understory tree growing best in moist, sunny to partly shaded landscapes.