and Deciduous Forest Trees
of Southern Ontario

Paw Paw
Asimina triloba

Location in Ontario: Paw Paw is a Carolinian Tree found in Lambton County, Essex County, Elgin County and the Niagara Region. There is a difference of opinion as to whether or not Paw Paw ever grew naturally in Norfolk County.

Twin Paw Paws, University of Guelph Arboretum

Genus Asimina: This genus includes small trees or shrubs. Asimina belongs to the plant family custard-apple, and is the only member of that family not confined to the tropics. Leaves are simple, large and alternate. The flowers of pawpaws are produced singly or in clusters of up to eight together. Flowers are perfect, with six sepals and petals. The fruit of is a large edible berry with numerous seeds. The only member of this genus in Ontario is the Paw Paw tree.

Paw Paw is found on the edges of swamps and along creeks.

Landscape Use:
Paw Paws make an interesting lawn specimen; small in size, with large leaves, beautiful flowers and interesting fruit. More than one tree is required for cross-pollination in order to produce fruit however.

Paw Paws growing along Otter Creek, Elgin County

Leaves: The leaves are large and simple with smooth edges. They are very thin and appear droopy.

Paw Paw leaves can be very large. 


Size: This is a small tree reaching 12 metres, and 80 years of age. Although relatively short-lived, Paw Paws extend their age by sending up new shoots from an old tree.

Many shoots from one tree

TREE FACT: There is a traditional song ....
Where oh where is sweet little Susie?
Where oh where is sweet little Susie?
Where oh where is sweet little Susie?
Way down yonder in the Paw Paw patch!

Bark: The bark is thin and gray.

Thin gray bark with whitish patches

Paw Paws are monoecious with perfect flowers. The beautiful flowers are a deep, reddish- purple and appear in June. Pollination takes place by insects. Paw Paw will not self-pollinate, as it is protogynaus, meaning the female stigma matures before the male pollen is released.

Beautiful deep reddish-purple flowers

Fruit: The fruit is a large berry which ripens in September. It is greenish-yellow in colour and very pleasant to eat. It takes 4 to 8 years for a Paw Paw tree to have fruit.

TREE FACT: The Paw Paw fruit, sometimes called "poor man's banana", is the largest fruit produced by a native plant in North America. Paw Paw fruit is not commonly found, but (apparently) is tasty, and very healthy.

Paw Paw fruit, Sinclair's Bush, Chatham-Kent

Wood: The wood is light and soft.
Specific gravity: 0.52
Janka Hardness: 900 lb
Wood Comparison Chart

Recommended Books:
Moore, A. (2015). Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Bissonnette, D. (2012). The Pawpaw Grower's Manual for Ontario. Essex, Ontario: The Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County and Windsor.

Lots of flowers, University of Guelph Arboretum 

Roadside Paw Paws, Sinclair's Bush, Chatham-Kent

Grove of\Paw Paws in fall colours, Elgin County