A southern California Pawpaw patch

A few years ago I started acquiring lesser studied fruit trees for genetic analysis - including Pawpaws. My interest is in determining an advanced marker set for genetic ID (a “fingerprint” unique to each cultivar) and also genetic markers for fruit characteristics. The latter is important for next-generation breeding programs.

Here’s a photo of my current collection. When the testing is completed in 3-5 years I’ll plant one in the ground and distribute the remainder.


So glad you’re back!!! Yayy!


Yes. Your sharp spicy wit was missed @Richard !!!


I thought that was glass above at first. I’ve got burlap on tomato cages individuallu over my little ones. The winds here get fierce, so the square ones stay upright better for me. I still have to reset them occasionally. Nice looking setup you’ve got there.

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Jute mesh also works well. Locally there is a custom plastic mesh shop for agricultural customers. I originally had this piece made to protect my young Cambuca tree which has outgrown it.

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Not sure about now, but burlap used to almost always be made of jute or hemp. Mine were the el cheapo ones tractor supply gets once in a while. I’m at the stage where they only needed half coverage and was too lazy to cut anything to shape. Always a chance the wind is just going to steal whatever I do.

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Here’s the main results from my study of Pawpaw genetic data. Huang’s original study had 72 markers but not all are usable due to laboratory errors. I’d like to reuse them in modern tests of all cultivars currently in circulation.


What are the chill hours in your part of Vista?

150 to 220 hours below 45 with none below 36, Oct. 1 to April 1.

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I asked,because from reading,they require a minimum of 400 hours to 1000,Maybe the higher number is for some varieties.
Have the plants pictured,ever leafed out?

Yes, they leafed out after their 1st winter here last year. They have just started again in the last few weeks.

As for chill hours, you know how some folks in the CRFG have to prove it for themselves? Well, there are three people in the coastal metropolitan areas of the county who have been fruiting pawpaws for a couple years now. When I learned of it I started the collection at our home.

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Do you know the names of some of the varieties any of those three people are fruiting near the coast?

I could check. One is in Bonita and a second in Mira Mesa.

Oh wait … I’m remembering Sunflower and Taylor in Bonita.

This recent paper presents the back-story to the origins of “wild” pawpaw patches found by north American settlers:
A portion of that information was also discussed by Peterson 30 years ago:

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Thanks. I know a person in Santa Monica about 1 1/2 miles from the coast who fruited Sunflower too. I heard it is not the best tasting, but some people consider it to be self fertile–but that is disputed by other people. I’m near the coast also in SoCal and have planted about 8 grafted varieties–mostly modern ones. I’ve had flowers and waiting on fruit–likely I will have to hand pollinate. I’ve been focusing on early flowering varieties since I think they will have the best chance (zone 10b).


Interesting that this paper cites multiple KSU papers.

It was D. Layne who got the ball rolling at KSU in the 90’s. A crucial turning point was when he and Peterson had recent PhD H. Huang placed at the Kentucky repository. By that time Huang was well-known for his work with chestnuts and could have gone anywhere. In 2003 he took a faculty position in China and nowadays directs an entire department and botanical preserve.

It is true that some cultivars perform better than others when multiple trees are present. This is an important fact for orchards. It is also true that every tree tested in isolation has produced at least a partial crop. In addition it has been observed that in maturity two adjacent backyard trees will produce too much fruit.

And as an epilog, there are sellers that like to point at the “partial production” as a reason to buy at least two plants from them.

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There is an interesting discussion of Pawpaw flower fertility beginning at the bottom of page 1897 in this article:

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Robert Brannan is known for his studies of crop utility - including Pawpaws. Here a recent paper of his discussing Pawpaw research efforts and established orchards outside the U.S.


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