Friday, November 13, 2009

Paw Paw Petals


Missing from our suite of species in the Back Woods is the Florida native dwarf paw paw, Asimina pygmea. Fortunately, they are found nearby on the westernmost undeveloped portion of the museum’s property. I captured a nice cluster of plants in bloom last week to share with our readers.

The flowers start out white then develop into a beautiful deep maroon color and are sometimes candy striped in between. The flowers are pendant along the stems developing at the leaf axis. The flowers are followed by an oblong edible yellowy green berry. Another common name for this species, gopher berry, may indicate that gopher tortoise make these an addition to their grassy diet. The larvae of Zebra Swallowtail butterfly feed on the foliage of many Asimina spp. as well.

Plans are to capture the fruit and seed of these plants to cultivate and transplant them to the flatwoods areas of the Back Woods. That is if the Med Flys don’t beat us to them ;-)



J.J. Cedar Glader said...

We have regular old paw paws here
and I venture out every first of September to collect bags of them which I freeze for holiday goodies
and breads , Lovely to see another species of pawpaws flourishing as ours have been crowded out by invasive privet and chinese honeysuckle bushes that destroy the understory trees.

TheLongleaf said...

"Regular old" is not exactly how I would describe Asimina triloba or the paw paw tree. It is a seriously delicious fruit that many people are not aware of... a secret hidden by heartlanders! It has such a short season I always end up missing the shipping period. I didn't know it would freeze well....hmmm, think I'll have to have some family in Illinois hook me up! :-)
Good luck and dont give up in your battle against the privet and honey suckle, I know they are both formidable invasive species. Our species are also threatened by invasive species but more so changes in the forest composition from fire suppression that shade out their habitat.
Thanks for the post JJ, Cheers!!!

TheLongleaf said...

They seem a little paw paw happy in Kentucky!

J.J. Cedar Glader said...

They certainly are! the fruit isnt good by itself when frozen,it kinda goes to mush, but its a great way to preserve it for cooking and baking with, Each year for the holidays i make a version of banana bread with paw paws and wild hickory nuts instead of the usual bananas and walnuts.