Sunday, May 4, 2014

Pawpaw Flowers

These are the mysterious brown red flowers of the pawpaw tree - Asimina triloba.   The common pawpaw is actually quite common out here, hence the name.  The trees are slender and small and they're an understory tree, like redbuds and dogwoods that just don't get very big.  The leaves turn a clear yellow in the fall.

Pawpaws are the only thing that zebra swallowtail   Protographium marcellus butterflies eat. 
Here you can see that the flowers start out green and turn brown as they age.   You can see the tiny leaves at the tip of the twig here.   The leaves will be large, very elongated ovals  in a month or two and they stink to high heaven.  If you brush up against one in the woods, you'll know it.  They contain an insecticide, which makes it so that only a few insects will pollinate them.

I have seen small, immature fruit on the trees before, but never a ripe one - probably because they're hard to see under the leaves unless you're right under the tree and because the racoons get them as soon as they are remotely palatable.   Rumor has it that they are very banana-like in flavor, but they should be eaten as ripe as possible. 
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