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.
Choosing the right plants for your garden can seem like a daunting task but we’re here to help. Our horticulturists have spent a considerable amount of time researching and writing our beautiful, American Beauties plant tags to help you be successful. First of all, when you see an American Beauties branded pot at your garden center you can be confident that the plant is native to your area and a responsible choice.
When you look at our tag you’ll find information about the plants natural habitat. That will give you a clue to how it will work in your backyard. For instance if the plant is naturally founded and moist, shade and you have full sun, it’s not the plant for you. The “Features” section gives you an overview or plant description so you’ll know what to expect. While the “Benefits” section talks about the plants strong suits and how the plant will benefit wildlife.
A Special Note About Exposure
Full sun: Prefers six or more hours of direct sunshine a day
Partial shade: Thrives in three to six hours of daily sunshine
Shade: Generally does well with less than three hours of sun per day. Having said that even shade loving plants will struggle in extremely deep shade.
Best Plants for Bees - Double sided printout for download
Best Plants for Butterflies - Double sided printout for download