Planting Pawpaws In The Wild


I have several varieties of Pawpaw coming to me in the spring, 2 of which I am planning on planting out in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania where I frequently mountain bike, with plans to also add some seedlings in the coming years. Has anyone done anything like this? I know in nature the Pawpaw is an understory tree, but I’d like to find an area where they get at least some direct sunlight. Will a Pawpaw tree produce fruit as an understory tree with mostly dappled sunlight? Where would a Pawpaw do best in the wild? Are there trees or plants you’ll typically see Pawpaw trees sharing a space with? Any advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!



Rich ground such as along banks of a stream is optimal.
Seeds and one-year seedlings are apt to fail in full sun.
Mature trees do fine in sun or shade…crops being light in shady
Buckeye, Box elder, sycamore are sometimes found near asimina triloba.
You don’t have to avoid juglans nigra…
Hope that helps.


I see wild pawpaw in SE Pennsylvania in low areas with creeks nearby.


I am starting a similar wild planting. I chose a site near a river where the young pawpaws can be artificially shaded with brush cuttings for the first couple years of growth. Once they are able to withstand full sunlight I will cut all the growth around them to remove competition of natives growth. So far I have only five that made the 2022 growth season. I will be adding about 7 this spring in the same area. During the dry months I visit and use river water to irrigate them. The site is within a city park and my plantings are protected from mowers by surrounding native growth.
It’s been a fun project so far.
Good luck with yours!
Kent, wa


Potentially, but greatly reduced fruit set compared to full sun.

As mentioned by others, in low lying area preferably near a creek or stream. Someplace out of the curious gaze of other bipeds and if possible quadrupeds too; the woods is a perilous place for baby pawpaws. Animals may disturb seeds or rub or trample saplings. Branches or entire trees may fall and crush them. My experiments in the woods have been mostly failures for these reasons.

Black walnut, Spicebush, invasive bush honeysuckle, persimmon, mulberry, etc. there’s no true “signal” species to tell you “oh I bet pawpaws are near” except maybe Spicebush. If you see this, pawpaws are fairly likely to be near in my experience.

If you can protect the trees with chicken wire cages or similar, that may go a long way. If you can plant in the sun out of sight you could do this and even affix shade cloth for a couple years.
Good luck!


I have absolutely done this in a bunch of places–but planting fresh seeds, not seedlings. Down near creeks, where there are openings in trees so they get a bit more sun. I don’t even remember all the places I’ve planted paw paws, but now that you mention it, maybe it’s time to hike all the places I frequented ten or fifteen years ago to see if any of them have grown.


Nice, guerrilla growing. Love it paw paw style.


Thanks for your input!

I just thought I would mention for you southeastern PA folks… I just got a flier from our county conservation district that they are selling PawPaw seedlings for 2.00 this year. I thought that’s quite reasonable for local pickup.