Scientific Name: Asimina triloba

Common Name: pawpaw

Other Common Names: false banana, pawpaw apple, custard apple, custard banana, poor man s banana, banana tree, Indiana banana, Nebraska banana, hoosier banana, michigan banana, white plum.

Habit: shrub/tree

Leaves: The drooping, pear-shaped leaves are alternate, from 10 to 30 cm long, with smooth margins and pointed tips. The leaves are coated with fine whitish hairs on the upper surface with rusty-colored hairs on the under-side. Leaves are aromatic, with a smell reminiscent of bell pepper.

Identifying Characteristics: Custard-apple or Annona family (Annonaceae). This perennial tree or shrub grows from 3 to 12 m tall.The deciduous leaves turn bright yellow before dropping in the fall.Pawpaws grow in humid climates and are highly frost tolerant. They grow in the shade in open woods usually in wet, fertile bottomlands, but can grow in upland areas on rich soils.

Flower Seed Head: Inconspicuous but interesting flowers (4 to 5cm in diameter) with 3 sepals, are green upon opening and turn to dark purple or maroon in color. From 1 to 4 flowers grow in the leaf axils before leafing, usually in April or May. The six velvety petals (2cm-2.5cm long) are stiff and curl slightly backwards.

Seed Fruit: Yellowish green to brown, cylindrical, mango-shaped fruits are 7-16 cm long and grow solitarily or 2 to 4 together. The large fruits (5 to 16 ounces) ripen between August and October. Fruits have a thin skin, which contain a yellow custard-like pulp that is said to taste like papaya. Some varieties contain a whitish-green pulp that is less flavorful. Fruits contain several flat 2cm long seeds.

Where Found: This plant grows over much of Eastern North America from Ontario and Michigan south to Florida and Texas.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Tree

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Annonaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: has hairs

  • Flower color: purple

  • Growth habit: woody bush or tree

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Flower diameter: half dollar

  • Root structure: taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf