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Asiminier (Asimina triloba) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin
Asiminier (Asimina triloba) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin

Paw Paw

This small tree from the Annonaceae family which is native to North America produces a ripe yellow-green fruit which is eaten raw, and is also used in ice-cream, sorbet, fermented beverages and pastries. The taste is reminiscent of both banana and pineapple and it has creamy texture.

Identity Card

Common name
Paw Paw
Binominal name
Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal

Taxonomy

Kingdom
Plantae
Family
Annonaceae
Synonyms
Annona triloba L.

Detailed Informations

Area of origin
USA, Canada (State of Ontario)

Etymology

Asimina is the latinised version of the name originally given by the Algonquin people. Triloba means “ having three lobes”, referring to its flowers.

Description and flowering period

It is a deciduous tree, ranging from 6 to 14 meters in height. The reddish branches bear large (15 to 30cm), alternate, slightly drooping elliptical leaves that are sometimes covered in brown fuzzy hairs. They are medium-green with a greyish underside and turn into a golden-yellow then brown colour prior to falling. The solitary bisexual flowers appear before the leaves in early spring, they are composed of 3 green sepals and 6 purple petals in two tiers and bear numerous stamens. They are bell-shaped and reach 5cm in diameter. The flower buds are already visible the year before flowering occurs. The fruit is a 15cm long, oblong, fleshy berry. Its skin varies from green to yellow when ripe and turns brown once over-ripe. The flesh is creamy, white or orange in colour and its taste is reminiscent of banana and mango. The fruit bears one to two rows of brown, flattened 2cm bean-like seeds.

Habitat

It requires a deep, rich, water retentive soil in a sunny position sheltered from wind. It appreciates temperate climate and is intolerant to excessive heat and extended droughts.

Uses

  • Ornamental
  • Food & drink: Its ripe fruit (rich in vitamin C, Manganese, saturated fats and amino acids) can be eaten raw, used to make ice-creams, sherbets and drinks. They are also suitable for baking. The skin and seeds however, have to be removed prior to human consumption as they can cause nausea, vomiting and intestinal problems.

Miscellaneous

It is also used in the pharmaceutical trade for its insect repellent properties due to the presence of acetogenins.

Notes

The whole plant (branches, leaves, seeds, roots and under-ripe fruits) is toxic due to the presence of various alkaloids and wood tannins in large quantities. The flower is very attractive to various butterflies and carrion flies due to its light rotting flesh smell.

Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN

Asiminier (Asimina triloba) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin
Asiminier (Asimina triloba) - Jardin botanique Val Rahmeh-Menton © MNHN - Christophe Joulin

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