A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants
Pawpaw, Dog Banana
Full sun to light shade; medium moisture level; prefers deep, fertile soil but will grow in sandy, sandy loam, medium loam, clay loam and clay soils; slightly acid to circumneutral pH.
15-20 feet height by 15-20 feet spread; maroon or purple flowers in April and May when the new leaves emerge; greenish yellow, fleshy, thick fruit up to 6 inches long in August and September.
Growth Rate: Medium. May occasionally sucker into a loose colony; remove root sprouts as needed.
Maintenance: No serious disease or insect problems. Frequent wind and ice damage due to weak wood.
Propagation: Seed germination code C (160) at 41 degrees F. but germination may be erratic.
Native Region: Statewide
Small, upright, multi-trunked, understory tree that is a member of the Custard Family. Cultivated for its unusual fruit and flowers. Flowers attract various species of flies due to the fact that their color and scent resemble rotting carrion. Produces the largest edible fruits of any of our native plants. Fruit is enjoyed by both humans and animals. Need two unrelated trees to assure greater pollination and fruit set. (If homeowner desires to avoid the potentially messy fruit, plant only one tree because pawpaws do not set much fruit without pollination.) Needs a fertile, loamy, moist soil to thrive even though it will grow in less preferred soils as long as they are moist. It will grow in dense shade but becomes open and straggly in appearance.
Fruit eaten by a variety of wildlife, such as opossums, squirrels, raccoons, and birds. Attracts butterflies. Leaves are larval host for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.