We all knew the “Pawpaw Patch” song when we were kids. I remember singing it while running through the woods and fields of Kentucky. There was a “patch” of the Pawpaw Trees on my Grandpa’s farm. The trees were about 10 to 15 feet tall and had large green leaves. It was a rare treat to find a Pawpaw on the ground around one of those trees, the animals always seemed to get there before me and eat all the fruit.
I have always looked for these Pawpaw trees in Florida while hiking and hunting. To my suprise I noticed a odd shaped fruit hanging on a small bush at the 40 Acre Woods. The narrow green leaves on the knee high bush had never crossed my mind as a Pawpaw tree, yet there they were.
The Narrow Leaf Pawpaw grows wild in North Florida. The small 3 to 4 inch fruit of these Pawpaws ripen in July to September. When ripe the fruit goes from hard green to a lighter green with brown spots and you can feel the fruit start to soften. They have a banana, mango like flavor, yellow flesh and many large black seeds.
Unfortunately, the Narrowleaf Pawpaw is mostly seeds with very little flesh, not the tasty treat that you get from the larger Paw Paw trees. And just like my early experiences, the animals will get them before you do. I recommend pulling a few fat ones while they are not quite ripe and set them out on the counter at home. They will ripen just fine.
Once I identified the bush, I found I had Pawpaws growing all around the 40 acre woods. I will be taking care of these great bushes in the coming years and look forward to the pretty blooms and occasional snack. I have seeds for the much larger and better fruit producing variety of Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) sprouting in pots to be planted later.
Way down yonder in the Pawpaw patch, at the 40 Acre Woods.