Grafting pawpaw to magnolia

Has anyone ever tried it? They are distantly related to the point where they can be mistaken from a distance until you look at the terminal buds.

I bring this up considering that stone fruit is generally compatible in some way. Apples, pears, hawthorn, serviceberry, aronia can be slapped together, even if for a short time.

I see some advantages to having a magnolia rootstock if it is feasible. I’m no expert on genetics, but after reading the description in The North American Pawpaw: Botany and Horticulture (Pomper & Layne 2005) there has been some debate over the years about some things.

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I understand the intellectual interest, but in the practical world - why?

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Well, a few things.

-magnolias get much bigger so could “un-dwarf” a naturally small tree

-magnolias may increase longevity of a grafted tree. Pawpaw is known to only last 15-20 years before the grafted portion needs top worked on a new sucker; This is the primary interest for me

-soil conditions might be better for some situations on a different rootstock just as is the case for many different apple rootstocks

-additionally, there is no standard rootstock for pawpaws. if magnolia could be propagated with desirable characteristics that could change the game


Doesn’t cost much to try! Why not just try if your thought train is so positive! Try it

I’m considering finding a tree to do just that, but I know we have some folks who have a lot of knowledge about genetics and others with much more grafting experience than I do.

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I’d be ecstatic if this were possible. I have a 40 foot magnolia in my front yard and think my neighbors would murder me if I chopped it down :laughing:, but a graft on the branches… I’d love to try.

I’ll give it a go once I have extra scion; my current pawpaws are 2 years from me feeling ok cutting them but I know a few people with mature trees and I can ask for some branches.

I think of A. triloba as a slower growing tree, but certainly not dwarf.

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Worth trying to verify, but I doubt it. In full sun they can get fairly big, they just take forever to get there. I also believe you will get far more than 20 years out of your trees. You would love it here. I’m surrounded by millions of wilds.

One of the things it seems people begrudgingly accept is that pawpaws usually take 7+ years to produce fruit. If that time could be cut in half with a more vigorous rootstock that would be a big benefit to some growers.

Robert wild trees will definitely live longer than 20 years in good conditions. It’s the grafted portion that dies early in many cases based on my understanding. Do you have grafted trees to compare the wild ones to?

Dwarf is a relative term, but I think of paw paws as semi-dwarf trees with less early vigor than dwarf apple trees. Compared to most native forest trees they are dwarfs from my experience. Around here, they seem to top off at not much more than 20’, although they aren’t native here (that is I never run into them in the wild) and I’ve never seen them in their own habitat. How tall can they get where they are growing in their ideal environment?

I have 20 year old trees that don’t seem to be losing vigor, so I also wonder about their potential longevity.

I’ve seen wild pawpaws reach 45 ft or so in a wild patch, successfully competing with hickories, sycamores, and black cherries for the canopy sunlight. They may be understory trees, but they ultimately want full sun as they get older and will compete to fill in the canopy if a taller tree falls over.


I’d suggest you try grafting to Sweetbay magnolia if you’re going to try. That’s magnolia Virginiana.

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I believe “Brushy Mountain” topped out at 49 feet currently, or 14.935 meters for the rest of the world :wink:


Is there a particular reason for this species versus others? That one is not as common near me.

I don’t have any real evidence…just an educated guess. I’d think some folks in PA have sweetbay as a landscape tree.


You are probably correct about the landscaping. This is a sample of my locally available trees. I know I’ve seen many cucumber magnolia pods in the woods and never thought to collect them. Maybe I should.

Yes, if there is compatibility, cucumber tree also a candidate to experiment with I’d suppose.

Most magnolias are intolerant of black walnut, but pawpaw co-exists happily…for what that’s worth.

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Just discovered they’re in two different families so am not going to try this

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I do have grafted ones, but they are not that old. Neil Peterson lives down the street from me and his trees are much older than 20.