Asimina - Papaw
DESCRIPTION: Asiminas are mostly deciduous shrubs or small trees native to North America. A. angustifolia and A. speciosa are shrubs that grow 3 or 4 feet high; they aren't hardy in the North. A. triloba, the Papaw, is a hardy tree that grows from 30 to 35 feet high in the wild, but in gardens it is usually grown as a multi-stemmed shrub. This tree is the only Asimina hardy in the northern U.S. It is also hardy in parts of Canada. The Papaw produces many suckers from the roots, which tend to make a dense thicket. The simple, narrowly ovate leaves grow from 4 to 12 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. They have a sharp pointed tip and smooth edges. The tops of the leaves are glossy dark green and smooth and the undersides are lighter. The flowers are produced in June on wood matured the year before. They are reddish-purple and measure about 2 inches across. They are followed by short, fat, banana-like fruits, which are dull green, but turn brown when ripe. They are produced singly or in clusters of up to 5 or 6. The texture of the flesh resembles a banana's and is very sweet, rich and fragrant, with a pleasant taste. Many brown seeds, the size of Lima Beans, are embedded in the flesh.
POTTING: The Papaw thrives on deep, rich, loamy soil that is moist, but well drained in a sunny position. This tree is difficult to transplant.
PROPAGATION: Seeds may be sown in the autumn in a cold frame, or in pots of sandy soil in a heated greenhouse in the winter. If the seeds can't be sown as soon as they are ripe, they should be stratified before they are sown. For the first few years, the young plants develop slowly and then seem to speed up their growth. Suckers produced from the trees have few fibrous roots and when transplanted, are difficult to establish. The suckers should be removed because the tree will be more attractive with a single stem growing rather than being hid by brush. The Papaw may also be propagated by layering and root cuttings.
VARIETIES: A. triloba; A. angustifolia; A. speciosa.
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