Advanced Search Filters

Plant Type
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
Sunset Zone
Sun Exposure
Soil Moisture
Water Requirement

ASIMINA triloba

Image of Asimina triloba

Gerald L. Klingaman



Botanical Name

ASIMINA triloba

Plant Common Name


General Description

The northernmost representative of the otherwise tropical fruit family, Annonaceae, pawpaw is beloved for its interesting foliage and odd-tasting, edible fruit. The native distribution of this small tree is from the very southernmost reaches of Ontario, Canada, south to Florida, and westward to Texas. Natural populations inhabit bottomlands, floodplains and ravines. This species is quite common in many areas of the country but is listed as a species of concern in others.

Large, oval leaves with pointed tips alternate each other on slender branches of pawpaw. The leaves are medium to deep green and turn yellow to orangish red in fall. New twig growth is covered with coppery hairs. Pawpaw bears flowers on the previous year’s wood. These emerge in spring before (or just as) the new leaves emerge. The blooms are sometimes borne in groups. Each is nodding, cup-shaped, maroon or purple-brown and has a foul smell. This fetid odor attracts flies and beetles, which pollinate the self-infertile flowers.

Pawpaw bears some of the largest edible fruit of any other native North American tree. The large, oblong fruits are almost mango-shaped and technically "true berries." They have a thick, greenish skin than gives on the surface when they are ripe. The yellow, custard-like flesh inside is soft and has many large, dark brown seeds embedding within. Some say it tastes like banana crossed with a pineapple, while others say it tastes like old, somewhat fetid bananas. The fruits may cause stomach problems in some people.

Pawpaw saplings grow best when planted in filtered sun, while older trees grow and produce best in sunny or partially sunny sites. They grow well in a variety of moist soils with moderately good drainage. Pruning is rarely necessary except to remove dead or damaged wood. These are ideal trees for home orchards and landscapes as well as natural areas and native woodland gardens.

This can be a difficult tree to propagate. The seeds require a long period of cool stratification (extended exposure to cool, moist conditions) before they will germinate. Stem cuttings have proven mostly unsuccessful though pawpaw grafts well. This species tends to produce many root suckers, but they do not transplant well. All pawpaws require gentle handling and a long period of adjustment to survive transplanting.

Pawpaw leaves, seeds and bark contain complex chemical substances, which are under investigation for anticancer drugs as well as insecticidal uses. The leaves are the larval food for zebra swallowtail butterflies and pawpaw sphinx moths. In fact, the chemicals help the insects against predation.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    15'-40' / 4.6m - 12.2m

  • Width

    15'-20' / 4.6m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage


  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Purple, Burgundy, Brown

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Green, Yellow Green, Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Copper, Orange Red

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Gray

  • Bark Color Modifier


  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

    Edible, Feature Plant, Fruit / Fruit Tree, Mixed Border, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts

    Birds, Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing