Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Paw Paw Foraging

You may recall that last year Greg and I went looking for paw paws only to find none. Also recall that we have been eagerly waiting to harvest some since the fall of 2011 when we first discovered them!  Recently, after another year of waiting, our day to forage paw paws had arrived.  So, with much anticipation we headed out once again in search of the elusive paw paw.
We trekked to a local trail on the Potomac River where paw paw trees are indigenous and plentiful, and hiked for a long time before spotting any.
Then we spotted one.
And as always after spotting one, we started seeing lots of them (just like after buying a new car, when you start to notice dozens of your car on the road). 

Just what are these paw paws?  The Common Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) is native to the Eastern, Southern and Midwestern United States and had been a staple of the Native American and the Colonial diet.  The fruit is shaped like an oblong egg, with skin similar to a pear.  They hang in bunches beneath branches of large ovate leaves (much like a tobacco plant leaf), forming a lovely, tropical-like canopy.  The trunk has a smooth gray bark.
The ripe fruit flesh is soft, fragrant and tastes like a cross between a banana and mango-- very sweet.  Large brown Junior Mint look-alike seeds are nestled inside the yellow, custard-like flesh.
We established a pattern for harvesting these babies:  we gently vigorously shook the trunks of the tree, letting loose the ripest of fruit from the branches.  We then scooped them up off the ground and into our backpack.  It was a successful system, though we did have to explain ourselves a couple of times to passersby!
After collecting a dozen or so, we headed home to make smoothies.  You can read about that adventure in the next post!
For now, Happy Trails,
--Two Peas


  1. There's a city in Michigan named Paw Paw, after the tree.

    1. Yes, I remember! They must grow there, too. Have you ever seen one?


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