Pollinating Pawpaw flowers

My pawpaw trees are small - planted in ground summer 2012 - and I am a novice pawpaw grower. But this is what I did.

Today I saw my NC-1 flowers were shedding pollen.

NC-1 is the largest, at 5 foot tall. I wanted to pollinate the flowers on this tree, but there were no pollen producing flowers when these were at the receptive stage.

I’m impressed with the amount of pollen. This seems like a lot more than other fruit trees produce.

I pollinated 2 flowers on my smaller, 3.5 foot tall Sunflower. I don’t know if, assuming the flowers pollinate, that could stunt the tree. I really want a taste of pawpaw this year.

I’m not 100% confident this flower is at the receptive stage. I can go back and re-pollinate them tomorrow. There is also still a small chance that a flower on Sunflower will be at pollen shedding stage when a couple of NC-1 flowers are receptive.

These are beautiful dark burgundy flowers. The color darkens even more, when they start shedding pollen.

There are a couple of flowers on NC-1 that might be in the receptive stage. So I used NC-1 to pollinate those too. That is not supposed to work, but maybe the tree has not read that book. Can’t hurt to try, I guess.

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I’ve been visiting a place at the University of Washington,in Seattle,the last few years,where some Pawpaw are growing.They were planted there by the present head of the horticulture department,about ten years ago.
My last trip there was Sunday and a botany professor was working in that area.He told me the land was going to be cleared and a building was going to be put there.There are a lot of plants and trees that will have to be moved or cut down.He was talking like they don’t have a plan for them yet.Along with the Pawpaw,there is a large Black Beauty Mulberry about 15-20 feet tall and also a few bee hives.It’d be kind of a shame to destroy these things.
I don’t think anyone pays too much attention to the Pawpaw and I’ve never seen them fruit.This visit,I took a few pollen filled flowers and touched them to a few other females.I’m not sure what will come of it.Maybe I’ll bring a small paintbrush with me next time. Brady

This is the biggest Pawpaw tree at about 20 feet tall

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you can collect pollens in a zip lock sandwich bag and freeze them for hand pollinating later. I have read that sunflower paw paw is somewhat self fruitful. I have 5 paw paw trees that overlapping bloom time so I can’t really verify the self fruitful with the sunflower paw paw.


How do you tell receptive stage?

Hambone, according to Lee Reich it’s when the stigma is shiny and moist.

Tony, I will check today to see if there is more pollen that I can save. Thanks for the advice.

Bear, you’re doing everything correctly. With a little luck, the flowers should set. How’d ya like the freaky deak smell of those flowers? Scientists hypothesize the flowers’ fetid smell & strange appearance mimick rotting carrion in order to attract flies as pollinators!

Matt, it’s funny! I read they are stinky. I was curious. But I completely forgot to notice. Too caught up in the moment, and exited about the pawpaw flowers. It was very breezy, so that may have eliminated the odor.

At the edge of my orchard I noted an iris blooming. I hybridized them a few years ago and this was the first to bloom. I did smell that. Nice! But not the pawpaw!

click image upload


That fish looks awfully surprised that the pawpaw trunk wasn’t as tasty as he had hoped.


That ought to bring in the flies which will pollinate your tree. Smart, and funny too!

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People who don’t grow pawpaws won’t understand the photo. Poor them, they don’t get to eat pawpaws.

I use catfish stink bait but am not satisfied with it. Fish head or road kill next year.

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To guarantee fruit set each year, I used a small paint brush to cross pollinate my pawpaws. All 6 of my pawpaw trees are heavy setting right now and the numbers of fruitlets in the hundreds.


@tonyOmahaz5 I have tried using paint brush but am not very good at figuring out the right time to do it. Not good with tedious stuff like that so it’s easier for me to graft four or five varieties in each tree and attract the carrion flies.

What I did was take a shot class and placed under the flowers of one pawpaw variety and inserted the brush inside the purple opened flowers and brushed it back and forth until I saw a layer of pollens on the bottom of the shot glass. I then hand pollinated the next tree with that pollens while placing the shot glass under each flower to collect more pollens and moved on to the next pawpaw tree until done. I repeated the process a week later for those flowers that opened later.



Here are some more late pawpaw flowers that I will need a second pass in a few more days.

Peterson Shenandoah

Peterson Susquehanna

Tony’s Pawmoya

Persimmon Bob Lakeshore wild pawpaw and Halvin Wild pawpaw

Jerry Lehman VE-21

Mango pawpaw 12 feet tall and 8 feet wide with at least 300 flowers.



Tony, that is a really strange looking flower. I cannot get over how deep purple they are and they produce such a green fruit!

The flowers are very pretty to look at but people said they don’t smell good. I can’t really smell them somehow. They are very sweet and tasty fruits to me because I grew up on Custer Apple fruits and sweet sop fruits but to someone else whose know.


From what I’ve read they stink to attract flies to be their pollinators.

This Spring I had several hundred tiny pawpaw fruit form (say one half inch long) on one of my ten year old trees (that has fruited nicely in past years). Then all these tiny fruit fell off the tree.

Question: I assume formation of fruit, even though tiny, means the blossoms were pollinated. True? Then why would the tree drop all its tiny fruit? There was a late freeze here in MD but I think it occurred well before the fruit formed, not after.