The Pawpaw Report — September 15, 2016

I can’t keep up!

If you live north of the Carolinas then you need to get to your patch, to your garden, to your orchard, to your neighbor’s yard–get out there and pick them pawpaws!


Pawpaws are ripe in the Shenandoah Valley–have been for a little while. But apparently the bears have moved on to acorns, according to a ranger there.

Near Manassas, Virginia, the pawpaws are ripe. A gentleman picked one last Sunday and had it for breakfast this Tuesday.

Pawpaws are ripe in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia; and near Berryville, Virginia.

Garden pawpaws in the southern Allegheny Valley of southwest Pennsylvania are ripe. Dropping daily. In one particular garden, the trees had lost flowers to a late frost. But as has been reported elsewhere, the trees bloomed again, and fruit set is normal.

This weekend is the Ohio Pawpaw Festival. And so the pawpaws must be ripe in southern Ohio.

I’ve just (just!) received word that pawpaws outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, are beginning to drop.


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The Pawpaw Report – September 7, 2016


Pawpaws in the gardens of central North Carolina are nearly finished. They may linger elsewhere in the state, and in wild places. Back in the swamps.

Pawpaws in central Kentucky orchards are in full swing. Wild pawpaws are ripening and falling. (And it’s a good year too–fine eating in the orchards and the woods).



Pawpaw in a creek near Frankfort, Kentucky. September 1, 2016. Photo: Andrew Moore

Wild pawpaws in Clifton, Virginia–the report is to come.

Pawpaws in the gardens and orchards of southern Indiana are ripe.

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Jerry Lehman, of Terre Haute, Indiana, shows a ripe pawpaw to fellow participants of Kentucky State University’s 4th International Pawpaw Conference. September 1st, 2016. Photo: Andrew Moore



A pawpaw was picked from near The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s historic home east of Nashville, Tennessee. It was delicious, and stood out. I recall dark orange flesh.

In Chattanooga, Tennessee, pawpaws are ripe near rivers, and falling on heads.

In southern Ohio, many flowers were hit by the late frost. This is true elsewhere, including southwest Pennsylvania, Maryland, and throughout the Mid-Atlantic. In Michigan, however, after a few poor years, growers seem poised for a good crop–an advantage this year for northern growers.

Still, pawpaws are ripening now in southern Ohio.

And a few pawpaws in the Pittsburgh area are beginning to fall.


Expat dispatch: A pawpaw falls in Utah. (KSU-Atwood was the first to fall this year in that particular garden).


The Pawpaw Report – August 26, 2016


Pawpaws in the deepest South are all but finished.

Pawpaws in the Atlanta area are ripe now. [Chattahoochee pawpaws. Chattahoochee Custard Apples?]

In South Carolina, reporter Thelisha Casey enjoyed a ripe pawpaw in the Congaree National Park. #nps100

Pawpaws in Winston-Salem are peaking, if not waning. If you read this today or tomorrow, drive swiftly but safely to Winston-Salem–Saturday is the North Carolina Pawpaw Festival!

A pawpaw cultivar feast was had in Asheville, North Carolina.

Casey Trees, in Washington D.C., has at least one ripe pawpaw.

A Virginian told me they got their first pawpaw this week.

Pawpaws in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, are not yet ripe.

In Pittsburgh, we’re still maybe a week away. Most of the pawpaws are solid as rock.

If you’re north of Pittsburgh, your pawpaws shouldn’t be ripe. If you they are, that’s special, so give me a call.



Pawpaws in Bosnia and Croatia

In June, I took an incredible opportunity to travel to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. I have much to say about that experience. But this blog post will be in brief and about pawpaws.

Pawpaws are currently available at at least one Croatian nursery, Exotic King. (A current article about the nursery and co-owners Ivan Šulog and Martina Perešin Šulog: here).

One of the many great people we met in Sarajevo was Fedja Krivosič. Fedja recently planted a pawpaw tree on his family’s land, a beautiful property that also hosts community farming and agricultural research projects. Depending on this pawpaw’s success, and the success of a few soon-to-be-planted trees, Fedja has plans for an exciting new pawpaw-related project involving a local school.


The young tree appears to be grafted, and I assume the variety is called “Gent bloom 2” or “mud’oul trojlaločný”.

We toured Fedja’s property, and talked pawpaws for a while. Towards the end of the evening Fedja invited us to pick cherries from one of his large and loaded trees. So Boris and Cornelius climbed on the roof with a fruit picker and set to work gathering cherries until the sun set.



My friends told me that in Bosnia, much fruit is grown for alcohol production. Rakia, the umbrella term for fruit brandies, are quite popular (and delicious!). I’m hoping Fedja and his colleagues do find success with the pawpaw, and that I might someday return and sample a homemade pawpaw rakia.

Pawpaw Road Trippin’, Part 2: North Carolina Pawpaw Festival 2015 & West Virginia rambling

Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit is available from Chelsea Green Publishing


The North Carolina Pawpaw Festival has become a gathering of the region’s most dedicated, knowledgeable, and passionate pawpaw enthusiasts. I was honored to be among them a few weeks ago for the 8th annual event.

  • Ron and Terry Powell, of the North American Pawpaw Growers Association, disseminated information on growing, processing, and marketing pawpaws (and sold copies of their organization’s pawpaw cookbook!)
  • Though it was unripe, Woody Walker (who, several years ago, discovered and promoted the Kentucky Champion pawpaw tree) brought one of his “free stone” pawpaws for show, and offered dozens of seedlings for sale


Walker holds his “free stone” pawpaw

  • Full of Life Farms’ Wynn Dinsen–whose pawpaws supply Fullsteam Brewery for its various pawpaw beers–sold fresh fruit and treesDSC_0119

A ripe, yellowing pawpaw from Dinsen’s orchard

  • Milton Parker sold seedling pawpaws and potted figs
  • Neal Peterson shared tips on growing pawpaws in commercial settings (and his vast knowledge of all things pawpaw), and information on his own Peterson Pawpaws
  • And among several other vendors was Afton, Virginia’s, Edible Landscaping, a longtime champion of, yep, edible landscaping, and one of the premier vendors of grafted pawpaws. Nursery owner Michael McConkey was in attendance throughout the festival.


McConkey in the pawpaw patch

The festival is a production of the Forsyth County Cooperative Extension Service.

Fullsteam Brewery had originally planned to attend the festival and, I’m assuming, offer samples of its pawpaw beer(s). Unfortunately this was not able to occur. I’d interacted with Fullsteam on Twitter, inquiring whether their pawpaw Tripel would be available elsewhere in Winston-Salem, but no, unfortunately the nearest option would be Charlotte.


Meanwhile, attempting to make good on a promise to a friend in Pittsburgh to bring back a regional beer, I asked a festival-goer about finding local brews. With her tip to check out Stella Brew, a craft beer bottle shop, I was delighted to find their Fullsteam collection. I mentioned to the shopkeeper my reason from visiting Winston-Salem and she said, “We’ve got Fullsteam’s pawpaw beer on tap!”


I bought a growler of the Pawpaw Tripel and shared it with a room of pawpaw obsessives and it was pure joy.

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Check out Fullsteam’s Forager series by clicking here.


I gathered with a few friends that evening to sample nearly a dozen pawpaws, to compare cultivars and record our impressions of each. I wrote extensive notes on each pawpaw in my pocket-sized notebook and then proceeded to lose that notebook in the North Hills of Pittsburgh a few days later. (If anyone finds a notebook with unusual flavor notes, that’s it, let me know).




On my way home, the next day, I took several detours in West Virginia, and found pawpaws everywhere. Below are pictures taken in and around the historic Thurmond, West Virginia. Pawpaws eveywhere.DSC_0211 DSC_0217 DSC_0218 DSC_0233

Pawpaw Road Trippin’, Part 1: Pittsburgh to Jacksonville, Atlanta, and points in between

I’ve just come home from a week on the road talking pawpaws and promoting my new book Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit. The trip took me to Bland, Virginia; Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and Beckley, West Virginia.  

In Jacksonville, Florida, I was hosted by my friends at Urban Folk Farm, and welcomed by members of Permaculture Jacksonville. I met wonderful people doing interesting things related to organic and sustainable agriculture, food access, food education, and modern homesteading. It was a privilege to speak about pawpaws, which, in this corner of Northeast Florida, are quite rare.

One of the attendees shared a story about a man harvesting several pounds of pawpaws from a wild patch growing along a river near Gainesville, Florida. Now, according to the USDA–and according to my research and own experiences–Asimina triloba is unlikely to be found this far south. But maybe the USDA missed this patch. Unfortunately, the story ends here. So if any of you readers has information on the mysterious Gainesville/Alachua County patch, do get in touch!

The next morning I took a hike around the perimeter of Urban Folk Farm (which borders a conservation easement), hopeful that I might find one of the endemic Asimina species growing in the woods. And my naive optimism was rewarded! Just beyond the barbed wire was a pair of Asimina shrubs, pictured below.

An endemic Asimina species in NE Florida (or is it a False Pawpaw? If any readers can identify this species, let me know).

After Jacksonville, I continued south to my hometown, Lake Wales, Florida, to visit with my family. My mom has also caught the pawpaw bug, and is experimenting with growing Asimina triloba well south of its native range. So far, they appear to be thriving. Central Florida has had heavy rains this summer, and one of the pawpaws is showing incredible growth, pictured below (pardon the poor quality–I took this picture on a steamy morning and my lens fogged up… I couldn’t wait for a better shot, had to make good time to Atlanta!)


Asimina triloba with vigorous growth far south of its native range.


Asimina triloba in Polk County, Florida.

Let’s call Polk County the Asimina, or even Annonaceae, crossroads. Pictured below is a seedling cherimoya, a native to tropical South America, growing in a container. This will either need to be carted into the green house, or covered with cloth, during one of the county’s rarer frosty evenings.


In Atlanta, I was welcomed by not only the friendly folks of Trees Atlanta, but also my first ripe pawpaw of the season. For those of you acquainted with pawpaws, you know this aroma. And for those of you who are on the far end of the obsession spectrum, you know this was an exciting moment.

The talk in Atlanta was actually a panel discussion, hosted by Robby Astrove, a fruit tree-naturalist-forager-education specialist-multi-talented all-around good guy ( Also on the panel was NAFEX member Robert Hamilton, known in Atlanta as “the fruit man” due to his extensive knowledge of unusual fruit trees–both horticulturally and culinarily; and Cindy Mayer, a coordinator for the Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary Certification program at The Atlanta Audubon Society. The pawpaw, not only of value to us humans, is food for several mammals, and is the only larval host of the zebra swallowtail butterfly. It was an honor to be included in this dynamic, engaging panel.

After the discussion, we pawpaw people gathered in the parking lot to split the single ripe pawpaw about a half dozen ways. It was savored, and delicious.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, I visited a good friend, hiked around one of the city’s historic neighborhoods, and visited the recently relocated Three Rivers Market, Knoxville’s community food co-op. Perhaps pawpaws will soon be on the shelves here. After all, it was here in Knoxville, at the annual Biscuit Festival, that a pawpaw pecan biscuit, with a whiskey sorghum caramel topping, was a runner-up for the people’s choice award. Downtown, I spoke with a bookseller who remembered eating pawpaws on his grandfather’s East Tennessee farm. Such anecdotes are a reminder that this neglected fruit has a rich history–and a living story–all over this country.



Click here to purchase Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit.