Southeastern United States
Prefers low wooded areas, slopes, ravines and borders of streams throughout the Southeastern states of the U.S. Small populations range as far north as Indiana and southern Michigan.
Grows as a small, short trunked understory tree or multi-stemmed shrub. Rarely reaching over 25 ft. tall. Sends out suckers and sometimes forms thickets. Easily grown in average to medium wet, well drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Prefers moist, acidic soils. Becomes leggy in shaded areas.
Points of Interest
Small, showy purplish flowers in early spring give way to the development of a banana-like fruit for which the tree is best known. Pawpaw fruits have an almost custard-like flesh that is highly valued by both humans and wildlife.
Historically, Native Americans and early settlers ate the fruit. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew the Pawpaw and enjoyed the fruits on a regular basis.
Its large leaves look quite tropical, which makes sense because its closest relatives are such plants as the cherimoya, atamoya, guanabana and the soursop, all of which are important tropical or sub-tropical fruit crops.
A common name locally is the “Indiana Banana”.