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New Crops News, Spring 1994, vol. 4 no. 1
Pawpaws Provide Potential
The pawpaw (Asimina triloba)--the largest fruit native to the
United States--has the potential to become a popular flavor, according to
Carol Karahadian, food chemist, and Bruce Bordelon, horticulturist, at Purdue.
Pawpaws are native to 21 states in the eastern United States, although they are
most commonly found in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. A member of the
Annonaceae (tropical custard apple family), the pawpaw, unlike its tropical
relatives, is hardy to -30°F. The pawpaw was a popular fruit in the United
States early in the 20th century, but has been relegated to a local delicacy.
The yellow-brown fruits are about the size of a potato with a texture like a
very ripe banana, hence their name "Indiana banana." The taste is
reminiscent of papaya with pineapple overtones, with bits of banana and mango.
It has a very sweet, pleasant, tropical fruit flavor that is like no other and
is very rich, making it unlikely that you will want to eat more than one.
Extremely aromatic when cut open, pawpaws will fill a whole room with their
One of the difficulties with pawpaws is that they deteriorate just as they are
the tastiest. The intensity of fruitiness peaks at ripeness, but then the
fruit drops. The fruits do ripen off the tree, but because they ripen quickly
and bruise easily, they are almost impossible to get to market in a usable
Jerry McLaughlin, medicinal chemist at Purdue, has located a compound in the
bark of the trees that has shown preliminary success as a botanical insecticide
(asimicin) and others with anti-cancer properties (acetogeninins). A trial of
40 varieties of pawpaw is underway at Purdue with support form Purdue's
New Crops Center.
Pawpaw trees are available from:
- J.S. Akin, Sherwood's Greenhouses, P.O. Box 6, Sibley, LA 71073. Telephone:
(318) 377-3653. Send Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope for price list.
- Annie Black, Hidden Springs Nursery, Rt. 14, Box 159, Cookville, TN 38501.
Telephone: (931) 268-9889. Catalog 40 cents.
- Corwin and Letha Davis, 20865 Junction Road, Bellevue, MI 49021. Telephone:
(616) 781-7402. Include Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.
- Michael Dolan, Burnt Ridge Nursery and Orchards, 432 Burnt Ridge Road,
Onalaska, WA 98570. Telephone: (206) 985-2873. Send Self-Addressed Stamped
Envelope for free catalog.
- J.H. Gordon Jr., 1385 Campbell Blvd., Amherst, NY 14228-1404. Telephone: (716)
- Louisiana Nursery, Rt. 7, Box 43, Opelousas, LA 70750. Telephone: (318)
948-3696. Catalog $5.
- Northwoods Nursery, 28696 S. Cramer Road, Molalla, OR 97038. Telephone: (503)
- Oregon Exotics Rare Fruit Nursery, Jerry Black, 1065 Messinger Road, Grants
Pass, OR 97527. Telephone: (503) 846-7578.
- Robert Seip, Lennilea Farm Nursery, R.D. 1, Box 683, Alburtis, PA 18011.
Telephone: (215) 845-2077.