Family: Annonaceae, custard apple family
Genus, species: Asimina triloba
Leaves are large, elongated, wider toward tip, narrower toward base.
Bark is usually smooth, gray.
Flowers are dark purple or reddish-brown, with six petals, about 2 inches in diameter. Each flower has both male and female reproductive parts, but flowers are self-incompatible, require cross-pollination. Flowers are pollinated by carrion flies and beetles. Flowers smell like rotting meat to attract flies and beetles, but scent is weak, attracting few pollinators, thus limiting fruit production.
Fruit is large, 3 to 4 inches long. Fruit is initially green, then ripens to yellow or brown. Fruit is edible, flavor is similar to banana and mango. Seeds are large, dark brown.
Pawpaw trees are small, grow in clusters in the forest understory, spread clonally via roots.
Common Uses and Interesting Facts:
Pawpaws have never been cultivated for fruit production, primarily because fruit does not store or ship well. Pawpaw is the only member of its family that occurs outside of the tropics.
The common name, pawpaw, probably derives from the Spanish papaya, perhaps because of the superficial similarity of their fruit.
The genus name, Asimina, is from the French for "pawpaw." The species name triloba is from the Latin for "three-lobed."