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Papaw (Asimina triloba)

Annona triloba.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Asimina triloba

A fibre from the inner bark is used for making strong rope and string[61, 82, 227, 257].

The seed has insecticidal properties[222].

A yellow dye is made from the ripe flesh of the fruit[229].

Wood – light, soft, weak, spongy, coarse grained[82]. It weighs 24lb per cubic foot[227]. It is not used commercially[229].

  • Medicinal Use

    The fruit is used as a laxative[222].

    The leaves are diuretic[222]. They are applied externally to boils, ulcers and abscesses[4, 222].

    The seed contains the alkaline asiminine, which is emetic and narcotic[222, 227]. They have been powdered and applied to hair to kill lice[222].

    The bark is a bitter tonic[4]. It contains the alkaline analobine, which is used medicinally[227].

  • Edible Use

    Edible fruit – raw or cooked[2, 3, 11, 46, 62, 99]. A very good size, it can be up to 16cm long and 4cm wide[82, 200]. Of variable quality, some forms (with orange skins) are exquisite with the flavour of banana custard whilst others (with yellow, white or dark brown skins) can be unpleasant[57, 85, 183]. Another report says that the white fruits are mildly flavoured and later ripening than the orange fruits[227]. The fruit can also be used for making preserves, pies, ice cream and other sweet desserts[183]. The fruit falls from the tree in autumn and is then stored until fully ripe[227]. The fruit can cause gastro-intestinal upsets for some people[274].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The seed contains a toxic alkaloid and is poisonous[106, 274]. The leaves can cause dermatitis in a small number of sensitive people[222, 274]. Other reports say that handling the fruit can cause dermatitis[200, 227].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200]. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 3 months at 15¡c[134]. Stored seed requires stratification, it has embryo dormancy and an impermeable seedcoat and can take up to 18 months to germinate[113, 134]. Dried seed quickly loses its viability. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for t least their first winter. If trying them outdoors, plant them into their permanent positions in early summer once the plants are more than 15cm tall. Consider giving them some protection from winter cold for their first winter outdoors. Layering.
Prefers a rich loamy soil with plenty of moisture and a sunny position[1, 134, 160]. Plants are hardy to about -20¡c according to one report[184], whilst another says that they are hardy to -35¡c when fully dormant[160]. The papaw produces a delicious edible fruit which is a potentially commercial crop[61]. The wild-collected fruit is often sold in local markets in America[82]. The tree commences bearing in 4 – 6 years from seed and yields up to 30 kilos per tree[160]. There are some named varieties[183]. The mature fruit is rarely seen in Britain[182], only ripening after a long hot summer[200]. A small tree growing against a south-facing wall at Bristol Botanical Gardens had a small crop of immature fruit in early September 1996 (following the hot summer of 1995) – this was the first time it had been seen to bear fruit[K]. Flowers are formed in the leaf axils of wood produced the previous summer[82, 229]. Established plants resent root disturbance, the best plants are obtained by planting them out into their permanent positions as young as possible though young plants should be given some protection for their first year or two[200]. The leaves emit a heavy unpleasant odour when crushed[82, 229]. Plants are untroubled by pests or diseases[160].
South-eastern N. America – New Jersey to Florida, west to Texas and Nebraska.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.