Tree talk is back in action! Though it has been a while since we last posted a “Tree of the Month,” PHS will have plenty of posts in the months ahead to catch you up on our favorite trees—just in time to celebrate the trees we’re selling in advance of the Fall Garden Festival. Among the 2012 offerings are a number of fruit trees to help enhance your yard.
But before I get too far ahead of myself, an introduction is in order. I’m Nina, and I’m a new addition to the Plant One Million tree team at PHS. I am excited to be here and to do my part to help restore the region’s tree canopy!
PHS is now selling a variety of trees online until September 7th, that will be available for pick-up at the Fall Garden Festival on September 22. For someone like me, choosing a favorite tree is an impossible task, but I am admittedly partial to the Pawpaw (Asimina triloba). It’s the northernmost representative of its mostly tropical family. It has tropical-like qualities that make it a unique native plant found in our temperate woodlands. Locally, Pawpaw is not sold at grocery stores, but a large stand can be found in Pennypack Park as the dominant shrub layer of the moist interior woods.
The common name, Pawpaw, comes from the Arawakan word for papaya. Its other common names—Wild banana and Custard apple—also clue you in to the taste and texture of the fruit. Whether eaten raw when perfectly ripe or used as a substitute for bananas in recipes, this highly nutritious and tasty fruit can be a special addition to the diet. Lewis and Clark, acclaimed explorers and amateur botanists, found themselves in Missouri in 1810 low on food and grateful for the Pawpaw’s large fleshy fruit.
Although two trees need to be planted within 15 feet of one another to bear fruit, its leaves are reason enough to plant a Pawpaw. They turn a beautiful butter-yellow color in the fall, around the same time as the fruit starts to ripen. Additionally, it has interesting flowers that are a red-wine color and bloom in the spring.
You might have heard the old folk song Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch. You can sing along in your yard while pickin’ Pawpaws if you purchase one or two of these trees at the PHS Tree Sale.