Two Dead Pawpaw Trees


Last year I got about 2 dozen fruit for the first time from my Sunflower pawpaw tree, and one fruit from my NC-1. Those were planted in 2012. Allegheney bloomed but no fruit, planted about 2015.

This Spring I pollinated again. None took. Then Sunflower’s leaves started yellowing, and fell off. The tree died. It was never a vigorous as NC1 but had reached about 7 or 8 feet tall. Allegheney then did the same thing.

I didn’t have much chance to tidy up the spot. There had been some suckers from the rootstock, so I let them be.


Today I cleaned up around the dead Sunflower Pawpaw. It was interesting, one of the the rootstock suckers was about 5 feet tall, but top heavy so laying down. I tied it up reasonably vertical. The leaves were much larger and greener than those of Sunflower ever were.


The “new tree” will need some pruning and shaping, but for now I’ll leave it alone. I cleaned up, mulched, and tied it up. I don’t know if it will fruit, when, or what they will be like.

Meanwhile, the NC-1 looks OK. No fruit, but tree not dead. I think the yellow leaves are expected now.


The dead Allegheney also has a green rootstock sucker growing, but smaller.

I wonder if this is a delayed graft failure. Why did the scion die, but the rootstock growth is so healthy?

I also have seedlings from last years’ pawpaws, Sunflower and NC-1. The NC-1 Seedlings would probably have both NC-1 and Sunflower parents, while the SU flower Seedlings could be either both parents, or just Sunflower. I really don’t know what I’ll do with these.

The main thing I wonder now is if there was a graft failure, and if the rootstocks, which are just unknown seedlings, will bear and when and what they will be like


Sorry to hear that Daniel.
It took long time for your pawpaw grow that big.
I think if we have named cultivars seedling must be better and not worrying about grafting failures because of suckers took all nutrients.
Anyway it’s might whether happen the same thing for me . Below 2 of my NC1 today pictured 10.5.19. One is still very green and the other turned yellow and keep dropping its leaves. It might dying slowly. I will find out next Spring.

My Sunflower also happens the same thing
Leaves turned yellow abnormally.


Below my Wells and Taytwo leaves also turning yellow in Fall with normal heathy natural looking way.


Seedlings and also suckers generally begin to bloom at around 6 feet tall…this could be 2 years old or 10 years old, size more than age is important. At least that’s my experience.


You guys paw paw trees started Fall early. All of my paw paw trees are still pretty green. @Bear_with_me, once the grafted variety died, you are going to have a jungle of suckers to graft to the brand varieties. I used to let the suckers grew to see how good of the fruits quality. They turned out to be small and very seedy so I topworked them to more larger fruit varieties.



Thanks for all of the replies.

@Vincent_8B I really hope this is my problem and it doesn’t happen to yours. You have such nice trees.

@ tonyOmahaz5 Thanks for the advice. We’ll see if there are any scions available. I don’t mind this not being a perfect pawpaw if it blooms and can make pollen for the others. I still have the NC-1 and a much smaller, but just as old, Mango pawpaw.

@BlueBerry that is encouraging. It means the rootstock trees could bloom next year or the year after.

Two years ago I also had a much smaller “Rebecca’s Gold” pawpaw that died suddenly. Apparently there is a disease of some pawpaws in the NW, starting as bark lesions, but these did not have any bark lesions. I did not see evidence of any ofthese insect infestations or diseases - the leaves were smaller and not dark green, but no holes or bark lesions or canker. Apparently there is a “blue stain” disease in Oregon that I did not see on my trees, but maybe it’s only visible while they are still alive. In the study in Oregon, the cultivar “Wilson” was the least affected, and seedlings at least took longer to catch it. i can’t copy the tables or images from that paper but they are interesting to view. I did not see any canker on my dead trees but can look again.

I don’t want to invest too much in growing another type of tree that won’t thrive in my climate (like apricots) but I can grow out some of the seedlings and see what they do. That might take longer than I have to grow them but who knows?


A friend on pawpaw pages planted a pawpaw seedling bough online. After 3 years then had fruits. They were very good quality fruits with very little of seeds as a brand name cultivars.


Give some fertilizers to your seedling next Spring and plant them, maybe they will adapt with local soil and weather better than others pawpaw from nurseries.


@Vincent_8B, that’s very encouraging. I will plan on giving the seedlings better care next year. I am thinking to grow them in big containers, because I read the seedlings can’t tolerate full sun for a couple of years. Plus in containers I can fertilize them very well. Doing that, my newly grafted apples grew about twice as fast, so maybe the pawpaws will do that too. With the apple grafts, I used 1/4 strength Miracle Grow for most waterings, then stopped in July to give them a chance to harden off.

Three years is fast! Wouldn’t that be great! I hoped that by crossing pawpaw varieties from very different areas, they are more likely to grow anywhere. Since Sunflower is from Kansas, and NC-1 is a hybrid of Davis (from Michigan) X Overleese (from Indiana), the result might be a little more widely adaptable (info from KSU, here). I wanted to include Mango (from Georgia) in the mix because that makes it a wider distribution, but so far my Georgia isn’t producing.



Seedling of brand name cultivar will give you good quality fruits but the suckers from a dead grafted tree that bought from a nursery may not be good.



I have no more room for planting but still collected all Peterson pawpaw seeds. Shenandoah, Allegheny, and Susquehanna for seedling. Hopefully theirs offspring babies will be good quality pawpaw as their parents or even better.


Given their superior genetics, I bet they will be good. Are you going to stratify them outside?
I stratified mine in the fridge in the fridge for the winter, then planted in containers in the Spring.
They were slow to germinate. I placed the containers in a shady moist area and forgot about them. It was surprising how many seeds finally grew.


Actually, Tony, I’ve had two 3 year olds completely defoliate. One, I gave up as dead, but cut about a foot out of the top and watered it generously, and it has put on 8 inches new growth in September. It’s mate, I’ve watered, but didn’t prune. We’ll see eventually if it lives. (I have a suspicion it will.) (They seem to go hibernation early in drought.)


Just planting them outside in shade areas. Our areas Winter time cold and long enough for them to grow in natural weather condition. I do not stratify them in the fridge. We can either ways do that especially for those areas have warm and short winter.
If some of your seeds hadn’t germinated from last year yet, may continue to germinate more in next Spring .
Hopefully your Rebecca gold bloom in next Spring so you can pollinate your NC1 and vice versa .


I’m saving seeds from Peterson varieties that Vincent ordered and I split the cost with him.
It appears seedlings may do better in our part of the country.
The seeds I started last year from @Hillbillyhort are growing nicely.


It’s very cold night, low 30F (10.9.19)
My pawpaw really had sunburn but still not ripen yet.


They will ripen on the counter well.


That’s very good point of pawpaw fruits. I would like to wait until the end of the month or 1st frost. Let’s see how they’re doing with natural weather here for information . It’s will warm up after tomorrow night. I will pick all in if it’s getting to cold. I will plant Summer Delights and Prince Caspian pawpaw very soon. Thank you so much Tony.