Pawpaw Varieties

I would think if the stem of the tree is 3/4 inch or greater, and the plant is well rooted in it’s container, there should be no problems with fall planting. (Or summer planting for that matter.) Little pots or tubes might heave up out of the ground from freezing and thawing action over the course of winter. (Balled and burlapped would be fine in late fall or early winter…if you can find any.)

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Container-grown… fall planting probably OK. Bare root… not.
My understanding, from plant physiologists… A.triloba is the sole surviving temperate-climate member of the (tropical) Annonaceae,… They are NOT like most of the fruit tree species we we deal with, which carry out significant root growth during fall/winter, at any time the soil is not frozen. Dormant-season root growth is virtually nonexistent for pawpaw - as opposed to what we encounter with most temperate deciduous trees - oaks, maples, pomefruit, etc.

Pawpaws are best transplanted - especially if bare-rooted - just immediately prior to bud-break in spring, or potentially, even in very late summer… though I certainly would opt for early spring, if at all possible.




We don’t know how many are safe to eat and that’s a problem. I only eat fruit from the low acetogenin varieties and I don’t eat many of those…


The low acet. varieties include Sunflower, Wabash, Potomac, Zimmerman and Wells. I’m going to guess that eating one a day for the month or so that they ripen is a low risk proposition.


I also recently watched that video, which someone had posted on FB. The shaking was visible, but I didn’t realize it could have been related to eating pawpaws until I read this thread.

I have three pawpaw trees - Sunflower, PA Golden, and an unidentified rootstock that grew after the Mango scion died. I’ll taste them once they start producing, but may need to hold off on eating in any volume until more research has been done.


I wouldn’t recommend other people eat them dried but I love them. Matter of fact I’ve heard of so many problems I recommend against it and have quit eating them dried out of fear others problems would become mine. I’ve not heard any negatives to freezing them so I did that instead.

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You probably read the same document I just did from Kentucky State U.

Made me a bit nervous. Now I wonder why I planted two pawpaw trees!!!

Though it’s not like we were eating the deadly Pufferfish like some Japanese do but …


With the few varieties they used to kill brine shrimp there was a very large difference depending on variety of pawpaw, with Mitchell and Overleese being the strongest.
The people in Guadalupe with Parkisons were consuming both fruit containing annonacin and herbal tea made from leaves. Also many who consumed large amounts did not have Parkisons so it’s possible that genetics is involved.
According to the KSU presentation “…the FDA does not currently have any
evidence that pawpaw is unsafe to eat.”

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Yup, read that. Somehow, my enthusiasm about pawpaws has dimmed considerably.

The FDA seal of approval does not help at all. The FDA is as incompetent as any government agency.


I haven’t read any great depth on this, but did read through a dozen or so hits off google. A few random thoughts:

First, most of the people apparently suffering ill effects are in the tropics and are eating (or drinking tea derived from) a relative to the paw paw.
For example:

The Paw Paw we are talking about here is not native to Hawaii or the West Indies. It does have relatives that are… but that by itself doesn’t prove much. (lots of closely related plants, or closely related compounds behave very differently when consumed) When we look at toxicity in food you need to consider both the amount consumed, and the length of time of which it was consumed. Since the affected individuals live in the tropics I suspect we are seeing cases of people who consume the fruit essentially year round on a long-term basis. (very different from a person who eats a few ripe Paw Paws for at most a few weeks each fall)

Second, while studies show there are some similar compounds in the North American Paw Paw, whether or to what extent those compounds are harmful in the real world is unknown. Every day you consume detectable quantities of substances we know to be potentially toxic… from pesticide residue on fruits and vegetable (including much of what is sold as organic) to heavy metals in fish, to trace amounts of amygdalin in sweet almonds, which metabolizes into cyanide… etc.

Third, you can’t seek to crudely sort compounds into good and bad, that just isn’t how things work. Caffeine for example is actually fairly highly toxic…( … but some studies have shown that regular consumption of coffee may have health benefits.

The bottom line here is don’t jump to conclusions. Until someone does a serious study on the topic all we can say is that people have consumed paw paws for centuries with no readily observable ill effects.


Same here.


I’ve been doing two a day max for the month or so that they ripen, and the average in that period is probably a bit less than one a day. I think its a good idea to monitor how many you are eating over a given period. Since my family is not interested in them I have more fruits than I need, I already replaced one tree with a jujube and may replace more of them.

The nurseries should probably put a disclaimer or something so people are aware of it, we have had many discussions of this topic over the years but it looks like many people still are not aware.


The bottom line is that people should be wary about eating potential toxins. The conclusion that people should eat fruits with known toxins because all the evidence is not yet in is bizarre. Certainly no one should be feeding their children pawpaws. It is absolutely false that people have eaten pawpaws for centuries with no readily observable ill effects. Europeans have noticed ill effects from eating pawpaws for as long as they have eaten them. Many people get nausea, stomach upset, even severe stomach pain, sometimes with diarrhea and cramping from eating even part of one fruit. This has been widely reported for as long as Europeans have been eating them. My son got stomach upset the first time he ate one. That was before I knew anything about the toxins or the fact that pawpaws cause stomach upset in many people. People have reported confusion and dizziness from eating pawpaws on a regular basis or from eating too many within a day or two. I will post a few quotes and links below. And what I have posted below is just a tiny portion of the complaints you will find online. Many people will not eat pawpaws at all. I have been growing them for 25+ years and pawpaws are one of the few fruits I have ever observed that people will refuse to eat at all. Many people just don’t like the smell or perceive that there is something wrong with the fruit. Many people will eat one bite and refuse to eat any more.

NC State extension lists pawpaws as poisonous plants. The poisonous parts they list are leaves and FRUIT. “Fruit edible but some people suffer SEVERE stomach and intestinal pain; skin irritation from handling fruit.”

Intolerance to pawpaw fruit from the permies site:
Richard-“I’ve long been enthusiastic about pawpaws, even attending the Ohio Pawpaw Festival a couple of years ago. I love the flavor of most pawpaws. However, before these past few years, I never had a chance to eat them in quantity. This is the second Pawpaw season that I’ve eaten a bunch, and have realized if I eat more than a few I react badly to them. Some others that I’ve talked to report the same thing. I just want to start this thread to hear others experiences, especially if you’ve made pawpaws a significant part of your diet, if only for a few weeks each year, or if you’ve processed them at all.
For me, it’s not an allergic reaction. I can eat 3 or 4 a day for a couple of days and be fine, but if I keep it up they’ll upset my stomach, as well as make me chilly and other neurological symptoms. These continue a few days after I stop eating them. This past weekend, I made a cornbread which included pureed pawpaws. This seemed to affect me dramatically more than fresh pawpaws do.”

Akiva-“I also started out highly enthusiastic about pawpaws. After having access to lots of them for the last few years, I am no longer excited about them. Both me and my wife now find them nauseating. We also have friends who feel the same way. They seem like such wonderful native trees, but I don’t see how I would want to have them be a staple in my diet.
In my nursery I get so many requests for pawpaws that I keep growing them. They seem like a good wildlife tree and there are certainly worse things to grow, but I think the American persimmon is so much better to grow for fruit. We have eaten them in great quantity several years now, and they are always amazing with several uses.
You are certainly not alone in having negative reactions to lots of pawpaws. A couple friends made pawpaw fruit leather, and got so sick that they thought they had food poisoning. Apparently there are fats in the pawpaw that go rancid during drying.”

Duane-“A Word of Caution
While many people enjoy the taste of pawpaw, some individuals become sick after eating the fruit. Skin rash, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can develop. In other cases, individuals may be allergic to the leaves or the fruit skin (Peterson, 1991).
Many tissues of this tree, especially bark, leaves, and seeds, contain a variety of alkaloids, phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, tannins, flavinoids, and acetogenins. While these chemicals can cause allergic reactions, some of them are anticarcenogens and still others have natural or botanical pesticide qualities (McLaughlin and Hui, 1993; Zhao et al., 1994.)”

From the Virginia Cooperative Extension service:
“While many people enjoy the taste of pawpaw, some individuals can become sick after eating the fruit. Skin rash, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea can develop. In other cases, individuals may be allergic to the leaves or the fruit skin.”

In the 1800s in Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World he reported that people refused to eat pawpaw fruit because it was “too luscious”. That excuse is silly. People have refused to eat it for as long as they have been exposed to it and it’s not because it is “too luscious” or “too rich”, absurd excuses that pawpaw enthusiasts still make. People wouldn’t eat in the 1800s or now because they perceive there is something wrong with it. My wife ate it once or twice, had no stomach upset but refused to eat it anymore. My wife grew up eating tropical fruit and will eat durian. She won’t eat pawpaws because she thinks there is something wrong with them. I’ve never even talked to her about acetogenins.

For those who have not yet read them, here are two of the most interesting scientific articles about the toxic impact of eating pawpaws. The neurotoxin basically impairs the mitochondria in some nerve cells:

  1. Lannuzel, A; et al. (6 October 2003). “The mitochondrial complex i inhibitor annonacin is toxic to mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons by impairment of energy metabolism”. Neuroscience (International Brain Research Organization) 121 (2): 287Â296. doi:10.1016/S0306-4522(03)00441-X.
  2. Champy, Pierre; Hoeglinger, Guenter U.; Feger, Jean; Gleye, Christophe; Hocquemiller, Reynald; Laurens, Alain; Guerineau, Vincent; Laprevote, Olivier; Medja, Fadia; Lombes, Anne; Michel, Patrick P.; Lannuzel, Annie; Hirsch, Etienne C.; Ruberg, Merle (2004). “Annonacin, a lipophilic inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I, induces nigral and striatal neurodegeneration in rats: Possible relevance for atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe”. Journal of Neurochemistry 88 (1): 63Â69
    Neuroscience and the Journal of Neurochemistry are both respected, peer reviewed journals.

You know what upsets my stomach? Cabbage, which incidentally does contain “known toxins,” along with many of the other foods you eat every day.

I don’t think you read my post carefully. Much of what you eat contains “known toxins,” but whether or not they have any ill effect on you has everything to do with their preparation, the quantities consumed, your own personal genetic makeup, and other factors.

I recommend you read here for a perhaps clearer explanation of the message I was trying to convey:

also here:

and here:

That paw paws contain a potential toxin, or that some people become sick to their stomach if they eat a lot of them, or are allergic to them, is utterly unremarkable and absent some serious study that I am unaware of is no cause to call for people to avoid them entirely.


I agree and do not know of any human studies involving the consumption of pawpaw. There is anecdotal evidence that it causes nausea and headaches with some people. Also there may be some relationship to Parkinson and Parkinson type symptoms with consumption of soursop (probably large amounts) and that may or may not be true for pawpaw,
For me, I would not consume 2 or 3 pawpaw a day for an extended period and I would pay close attention to how I feel after eating them. I haven’t seen any evidence that would stop me from eating them occasionally.


I read your post quite carefully and have been reading posts just like yours for at least 10 years from people who are so enamored by pawpaws that they want to ignore the facts. I read very carefully your statement that people have eaten pawpaws for centuries with no readily observable ill effects. That is absolutely false and reveals that you need to read a great deal more about pawpaws. Your conclusion that since we already eat toxins we should be fine with eating more is the height of absurdity. Pawpaws do not contain a “potential” toxin. They contain a toxin. Period. That people have reported stomach distress including SEVERE pain and diarrhea from eating pawpaws is not “unremarkable” and no physician would tell you that its is unremarkable. It is in fact quite remarkable.

I never stated that people should avoid pawpaws entirely and why would you suggest I did? I eat one or two pawpaws each year of either Wells or Sunflower. They do not cause me stomach distress. But people should be COMPLETELY aware of the issues associated with eating pawpaws and should try to eat varieties with low acetogenins and even then only eat them occasionally since it is not at all clear that the acetogenins are what are causing the stomach distress.

That mind reading is a heck of a party trick. I am not particularly enamored of paw paws and certainly don’t suggest anyone “ignore the facts.” I am simply pointing out that the “facts” don’t say what you seem to think they do.

In the context of a discussion about Parkinson’s Disease an upset stomach doesn’t really register. Some people don’t like paw paws. Some people report that they get an upset stomach if they eat them, or eat too many of them. Basically, they are just like candy corn… or countless other foods. Milk makes a certain subset of the human population sick, as does gluten, as does who knows how many other foods.

I hope we are all capable of holding the perhaps contradictory thoughts in our head simultaneously that milk makes -some- people sick, while others consume it without ill effect and may do so without worry. (despite the fact that it contains detectable amounts of various known toxins)

…and this is where you reveal that your first statement, that you read my post “quite carefully,” was false, or that you simply didn’t understand it regardless of how carefully you read it. I never said “eating more” toxins was “fine”. I explained that there are countless substances that under some circumstances -can- be toxic, and that many many of these substances can be consumed without worry under the right circumstances.

You seem to associate the word “toxin” with a bottle with a little skull and crossbones on it. Caffeine is a toxin, alcohol is a toxin, oxygen is a toxin, water can be a toxin. My point is that you are making an unsupported leap from “there is a substance in paw paws that can under laboratory conditions be shown to be toxic” to:


I dont mind that they contain toxins.

Would still eat them because i really like them and i never had any problems.

Family members also ate many and all were fine.

The worst thing for me was when i was eating many arguta kiwis (500g)

Had acid reflux and diarrhea.