Pawpaw in Kansas - it's a lot of work but can be done!

Pawpaw are not exactly easy to grow here because they need shade when they are babies and water all the time. Seemed impossible to me at first but then I dug them a pond to grow beside. Note the reflection of the overhanging shade trees in the water

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Interesting approach. When you are on the plains sometimes you have to think outside the box to have any chance of success, Keep us updated.

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The oldest one is a 3 year old now. I will post in 1-3 years when I get fruit.

Are they all from seed or any named varieties?

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These are selected seedlings that are not named varieties. The parent tree one of them came from produces 6+ inch fruit for my family. I’m growing smaller fruited hardier ones as well. We will see how they come out and I can graft them later if necessary. Hoping they start suckering from the roots pretty soon to make a patch. You will also note the soil is moist but not waterlogged. They are in filtered sunlight but close to full sunlight for when they start to sucker. The new trees they produce will be more acclimated to Kansas.

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i may plant some on a south side of a hill next year. I have grown a lot, but need a good microclimate as all them have died or damaged from bad winters. Persimmons have been a similar problem. I like sticking with apples and pears.

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KlecknerOasis,
I do have a hill on the north side of them I made from the left over pond dirt which I should have mentioned. You might try different seedling persimmon because some are hardier than others. I grow a few types but many will not grow here. Sounds like your climate is similar to mine.

No fruit yet, most pawpaw are slow growers though they do like the location!

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Is it really a requirement that pawpaws grow close to water? My 5 trees are growing on the top of a hill and seem to be flourishing.

My understanding was that wild ones grow close to water because the seeds must stay constantly moist, and one of the only circumstances where wild pawpaw seeds stay moist long enough to germinate is when seeds fall in a stream then get buried in moist soil along a streambank.

This is different than what the pawpaw evolved for, which is to have the fruit and seeds eaten by a giant extinct animal (Mastadons maybe?), and then be “planted” in the giant pile of poo which keeps the seed moist. Again, my understanding is that if you look at the fossil record from the Pleistocene you can find pawpaws growing in all sorts of environments.

If I’m wrong about the history, somebody please correct me. I think pawpaws are fascinating and would love to learn more about them.

They definitely need protection from wind, and some shade at least in the beginning, but when I look at the tap root these things put down I have to believe they have some drought tolerance.

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The Pawpaws I was growing on the hill died. At least in my experience at my location this is the only way I can grow them. It was a lot of trouble to create that artificial environment. I killed a lot of pawpaw figuring out the best way to grow them here. In other locations such as Missouri they grow nearly everywhere. They get more consistent rain , warmer winter temperatures, soil is better for trees etc… All that said in Missouri they still grow better by the rivers and creeks.

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Years ago I found a nearby pawpaw spot in Kansas. Like most wild pawpaw they are growing in a microclimate in hill country next to a creek in a shady area that floods often which deposits rich silt where they grow. @39thparallel and I are gorging ourselves on pawpaw this year and did not even pick a fraction of what was there. Many of the pawpaw in this area are 45 feet tall. There are literally hundreds of pawpaw trees in this spot and bushels of fruit to be picked each year. This was the end of the 2017 harvest and 39th parallel picked more last week. It’s a very welcome harvest this time of year. Hopefully the seeds will germinate well and we can grow hundreds of rootstocks from this bountiful harvest. Today we picked a 5 gallon bucket each! Thought someone might like to see what we were up to today. I imagine the deer like us are getting tired of pawpaws from this couple of acres pawpaw patch!

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For those in the Delaware/PA/Maryland border region, Turkey Point in MD has very similar wild groves with 30 foot trees producing tons of wild paw paw fruit. As a bonus, right by the Turkey Point lighthouse is a nice American persimmon specimen in an open field. We foraged there every year before we moved away.

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Four seeds in that pawpaw. There’s a trait not seen often.

I like the lake idea a lot. Good you built the lake for them. :grinning:

Dax

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Dax,
Many people grow them but I’m trying to match their natural environment as close as possible. You can see based on the photos above what their true natural habitat is. That is actually how I located the patch. Family in neighboring states grow big patches like this. I saw the terrain and began looking for them. I let @39thparallel in on my secret a couple of years ago. You should see a couple of my secret morel patches! Once I told Mike where they were he scouted the area where I found the trees one winter and he located the larger patch a short distance from there. I saw a lot of trees on my initial encounter and told Mike the landmarks where I was.

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Absolutely. I’ve seen several native areas around here. Not only are they found close to the Mississippi on sloping ground, we find them here in situations just as you posted above. We see them on hillsides here, mainly.

What you said about about alluvial soils washing into a basin is another example. I know a guy that found 80’ pawpaws on the same type of ground.

ahhh. mushrooms. something I haven’t learned yet.

Dax

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I’m only really good at finding Morels. We had our eyes out for fall mushrooms today but we didn’t find any. I want to get better at harvesting fall mushrooms.

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My buddy I walk around with points to any mushroom growing but it’s too much information for me consume. And I sure as heck don’t want to get sick.

He’s off looking into branches of boxelder trees, knows where everything he wants should be growing.

Dax

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Here is the latest thread I started on fall mushrooms so I will keep you posted Anyone finding fall mushrooms?. Back to the pawpaw I never let the seeds dry out from when I eat them. I plan to put the seeds in a jar this winter and then plant a new patch!

I clean them in my mouth. I found my favorite way to eat a pawpaw is to skin it with my fingernails and then eat it I suppose like a banana. I take a big chomp into it and clean the seeds as I go. Then I do run them under water to get the last bit of material that always sticks to the flat end of the seed off. And then I instantly put them in damp media and put them in my refrigerator.

Dax

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Yes… don’t let the pawpaw seeds dry out. As Dax says… plastic bag with damp media; peat moss; etc. Into the fridge for at least 3 months to stratify.

They take forever to get started… sometimes 2 years in the ground before they poke their first leaves out of the earth!

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