Pawpaw Varieties


I would also add it’s easy to say which cultivar is “light,” but the different frame of reference makes it hard to judge what is considered strong.

If you’ve not tasted Susquehanna, you’d probably say potomac is a strong flavor. If you’ve never had Wilsons, you’d consider NC-1 or Susuquehanna strong. If you’re judging wild paw paws as the end of the strong flavor spectrum, then Susquehanna is relatively mild of the road.

To me at least, Mango, Shenandoah, Allegeny are the ones that don’t seem to usually win awards, but are ones that remain high on everyone’s list (like within top 10 maybe top 5). So it’s the universality of their taste, texture, etc… that works well across all palettes. The people that like strong tastes still appreciate them but for the one that only like lighter flavors they are the only apparent options.


I think it varies on location to be honest. I’ve had watery flavored ones. Mango still is good to me at least in the Chicagoland area. For northern growers east of the Mississippi, I think it’s a good choice. @jcguarneri

I was really fortunate to meet and befriend Neal’s friend, and not only be able to try pawpaws but try so many and to top it off, sample the same cultivars from more than a single tree. These aren’t multigrafted. So I was sampling Shenandoah from 3 trees from different canopy heights - top, bottom, middle. Allegeny from 3 trees. Susquehanna from more than one tree. Some in shade some in full sun. I didn’t really taste a huge variation. Mango was really large this year. This is a NC-1 ~230g and a little over 4 inches long. Some of the Mango fruit here was 50% larger here than this NC-1. And that’s without thinning! Mango tasted good here. It wasn’t watery. Everything is getting tree ripened so not sure about which would handle shipping better. Once tree ripened, they all get gooey pretty fast if you’re just going to let them sit on the counter.

I will say one thing about Allegheny that’s not a huge plus is that at our location, it’s about half the size of Shenandoah, all else being equal. If you thin you can get an Allegheny the same size as some of the larger unthinned Shenandoah.

Left overs still need to process today.

There are some whopper sized ones like 400g+. The NC-1 pictured here is medium size of all the sizes harvested here.

EDIT: forgot to mention.

My neighbors sampled basically one of each fruit minus Wilsons, Rappahannock, and Wabash due to low availability.

2 like strong flavors.
top choices were NC-1, Susquehanna, a few of the unnamed Neal and JD crosses

4 like lighter flavor profiles.
top choices were Shenandoah, Allegheny, Mango, and Sunflower seedling, and suspected Shenandoah x Allegheny cross.

@IL847 Also liked the heavier flavor ones, specifically NC-1, but she can chime in to elaborate on her own descriptors.


@jcguarneri you should graft a branch. For me flavor-wise ‘Shenandoah’ tastes like water compared to about any other. I like tropical fruit flavors with knock you over richness …

Tom Wahl - owner of Red Fern Farm - says no further than 20’ apart or pollination is a bust. Remember that when you’re planting. I think anyone should have at least two trees. I don’t know if adding a varietal to a branch is an adequate pollinator. Does anyone know?


I plan on planting at least two trees, 8-10’ apart. And intense tropical flavors is what I’m after. Otherwise, may as well just plant more apples!
Looking back at some other photos of pawpaw being grafted and how thick the scions are, I believe I was premature in my assessment of readiness. They’ll have to size up for another year or so, I think.


I wouldn’t doubt it tastes watery to you. You have way more experience with pawpaws so I’ll defer to you. Shenandoah tastes light to me. It’s definitely not rich, but I like the lightness of the flavor profile. How does Allegheny, Potomac, or Sunflower taste to you? Do you like Wabash or NC-1?

Before this year, I only tasted a few pawpaws cultivars (besides wild ones) and don’t even remember the name of those I did taste years back. My frame of reference is perhaps more limited since I didn’t have a lot of exposure to pawpaws, other than its far relatives - cherimoya, sweet-sop, neither of which I’m crazy about.

Someone near me has a single varietal branch grafted on a 16+ foot tall mature pawpaw. It still requires hand pollination for properly sized fruit. Otherwise there’s little to no fruit set for the past 10 years, despite the rest of their trees getting pollinations: apples, plumbs, peaches, chestnuts, heartnuts, etc…

I would suggest finding someone with pawpaws and asking for a taste. Buzz at Perfect Circle (montpelier, vt) is about 2 hours north of you and selects for pawpaws that are early ripening.

Most of the pawpaws that I consider “strong” aren’t really intense imo. It’s not the adjective I would chose to describe the nature of the flavor. To me, the flavor is just “heavy” and or more like wild pawpaws. There is one tree that was producing small Shenandoah, maybe half the size due to lack of watering, and those fruits were pretty fruity. They were closer to Allegheny like flavor.


See @hambone, here’s another person that really likes ‘Mango’. A person who has tasted many varieties.

JustPeachy, ‘NC-1’ to me is excellent. It has that strong flavor profile.


I think there’s just so much variation that’s also skewing tastes. Neal’s friend who I’m getting fruit from told me you need about 3 years of fruit production to get a good idea of a pawpaws true taste - too much variation from year to year to simply go off a single year’s taste.


One All of my neighbors have absolutely no experience with pawpaws. They tasted basically 90% of what I bought back. One persons favorite is NC-1. Alternatively, there’s another neighbor who can’t taste much of a difference between all of them. And two more who very much so prefers the “lighter” tasting ones. One of these considered Allegheny to be “strong” (which it isn’t imo).

Tastes really span the spectrum. @Barkslip I generally like heavy flavors in all my fruits, so I was actually surprised when I looked under the samples and went to the master list to discover I prefer the lighter flavored pawpaws.

@jcguarneri if you have the opportunity to get try the cultivars from someone in your area, I would heavily recommend making the effort to do so. You might be surprised to discover you enjoy something other than what you originally thought. (It’s a pity the pawpaw festival is canceled this year, otherwise that would be a great op.)


Shenandoah is my favorite because of the mild pawpaw taste, large, and very productive.


It has been said many times that taste is subjective. It is wise to consider early ripening varieties for growers in cold zones like us.

A pawpaw lady I know here grows several Peterson’s pawpaws in her zone 5 farm. She said the only one that fruit ripens in time reliably is Shenandoah. She also said it is the most popular varieties among her customers. She has been selling pawpaws for about 10 years.

My guess is that its mild flavor pleases more people than the more intense ones. The pawpaw I don’t like is any that has a bitter after taste. But again, some people can taste a bitter taste more readily than others.


I’ve thought a bit more about this. Maybe the reason three of us (@tonyOmahaz5 @hambone) like Mango is because it tastes less like a pawpaw and more like it’s namesake. I suppose that’s odd considering its like enjoying an apple that tastes more like a peach because it tastes like a peach… But since actual mangos can’t grow in 5b (at least not until some mad scientist creates my dream hardy GMO mango with antifreeze glycoproteins coursing though its sap), the pawpaw cultivar named “Mango” might be the only alternative.

Where precisely in zone 5 (if you don’t mind me asking)? We talking 5a? Or 5b?


I couldn’t agree more! However, I’m not sure I’ll get a good chance to sample any anytime soon, plus there are the practicalities of early ripening that @mamuang mentions. You and I might both be 5b, but I get significantly fewer degree days than you do in Chicago. And on the taste front, I’m willing to go with what works rather than what’s perfect, as I’ve enjoyed all of the (very few) pawpaws I’ve tried. All were random wild fruits, so most selected cultivars are bound to be at least as good! We talk a lot about finding the “best” of a given type of fruit on this forum, but sometimes good enough is plenty good. The best pawpaw is the one you have in your hand.


Check with Buzz@Perfect Circle. I thought I remember him telling me he was working on selecting early ripening cultivars.


I really do enjoy the Mango and Shenandoah pawpaw fruits very much.


I’m so glad I asked you last year what your order of preference was. I never would have guessed I would have liked mango nor go out of my way to try it.


my mango pawpaw doesn’t really taste like mango to me. It has a mild flavor, pretty sweet and creamy, not all that different from the wild pawpaws I’ve had, just less of that unique skunky pawpaw flavor. They tasted excellent this year, but not like a mango. I guess I could have a mislabel, but my tree is super vigorous and the fruit are extremely soft. These are known characteristics of this variety, so I think I’ve got the right one. The flesh is much lighter color than my susquehanna.


Sorry it took a while for me to remember which town her farm is in. It is zone 5 b.

@jcguarneri, another thing to consider, the pawpaw lady told my friend that because of a mini drought we had this summer. She hand watered her trees and they did not get enough water. She believe that has contributed to her pawpaws not ripening on time as scheduled.

She may not have many ripen in time this year. My friend is looking to buy some from her but has to wait.


@mamuang In new england 5b? Or like Penn 5b? I have a friend in PA 5b that gets susquehanna producing. Shenandoah for whatever reason seems to outproduce all the other petersons if north of 40 degrees lat. (my sample size is small though, maybe just off 3-4 people I know).


5b Central MA.

PAnseems to have more warm days than MA. It could be because it is further south.

This lady has both Shanadoah, Susquehanna and others that I could not recall. In normal years, they ripen in time. In not good years, some don’t.

We seem to have more and more unusual years lately. People can grow what they want and take risk. It could be worth an effort when they are rewarded with the fruit.


Had more Wabash, NC-1, Susquehanna, Shenandoah, Wilson, Potomac, Allegheny today.

Honestly, after a while the distinctness of each paw paw starts to disappear, especially when you go from stronger tasting back to lighter tasting ones. I kept going back to spoon out a previously tasted pawpaw after scooping out something different to compare it against. Some of the differences are really nuanced.

After thinking more about, here is my breakdown.

@Barkslip NC-1 - Rich isn’t the word that comes to mind. Balanced with depth. Not really fruity/melony. Strong[er] but not sharp. Some aftertaste. mid to late. Nice smooth texture.

Wilson - Rich, somewhat sharp. A little fruityness. Lingering phenolic aftertaste. late

Susquehanna - strong flavors, rich. Noticeable phenolic aftertaste, some grit. late

Potomac - balanced. somewhat rich with depth, creamy. not fruity. some grit to it. Aftertaste. late

Wabash - fruity (melony), sharp flavor. Somewhat rich tasting. Clean taste. smooth texture late

Shenandoah - Clean, very light tasting. Slightly fruity. Clean finish. early to late

Allegheny - Small fruit. Strongly fruity flavor (but not overpowering) with a clean finish. No sharp flavors. Clean finish. early to mid.

Mango - Fruity like Allegheny, but not as pronounced. Less phenolic flavors, clean finish. Mellow. Large fruit. Early.

PA Golden - No idea which PA this is. It is slightly sharp but it’s quite strong. It doesn’t have a strong aftertaste or anything, but the pawpaw flavor is definitely there from the first spoonful. Mid.

Wells - Fairly balanced. Similar to Potomac but more fruity. Size mostly same if not smaller than Allegheny. Clean finish. Mid.

I can eat multiple NC-1 without a problem, but Susquehanna, PA Golden, Wilsons, and Potomac for me are probably have me set for the day after eating one.

Wabash has kind of the same effect but it’s really not the aftertaste that I dislike, it’s the sharpness/slight astringency that comes with every bite even though that goes away really fast for me. I think part of it is also the fact that Susquehanna, Potomac, Wilsons, and Wabash seem to be starting to achieve peak ripening at the end of September and here in Chicago-land it’s getting quite chilly by early September so flavors may not be as good as they would south of 40 degrees lat… The rest of the Susquehanna, Potomac, Wilsons, and Wabash, probably need another 2 weeks to finish complete harvest.

Honestly a lot of the Jim Davis seedlings here are as good if not better than the Peterson ones and are among the earliest ripening. Neal’s friend plans to name them once he gets a few more years of harvest to eval.