In Search of the Elusive Paw Paw

In recent years, I've been hearing about Paw Paws, a native fruit that tastes like one from the tropics -- along the lines of a banana. I've never held one in my hand, but in pictures, it looks like a mango. According to The Nursery at TyTy website, the trees were: "found in the United States by early American explorers.

Sliced chilled Paw Paws became the favorite dessert of Thomas Jefferson, and President Jefferson and George Washington established their own Paw Paw orchards at Monticello and Mount Vernon, VA." This site says they disappeared, perhaps with the cutting down of forests which exposed the trees to too much light. Now there's a little movement afoot to bring them back.

But I've found the people who get excited about paw paws are as elusive as the plant! An aquaintance recently planted seven trees -- she said she "re-pawpaw-pulated" them in the previously stripmined Wingfield Pines property of Allegheny Land Trust, in southeastern Allegheny County. But I only heard from her after the fact.

If I can catch you in the act of planting a paw paw, and record it for the radio, contact me at

(USDA PawPaw photo by Scott Bauer)