Photo credit: USDA/Scott
The Endangered Plants of
Florida, La Florida, as it was named by Spanish explorer
Ponce De Leon, in the early 1500's, means Land of the
We certainly do attempt to live up to the name!
The Pawpaw Tree/Shrub
A tree or a shrub, either way, the pawpaw is a
flowering fruit plant of legendary proportions.
There are stories told about it, songs written about it
it is one of the most sought after trees on this
The name pawpaw probably comes from the Spanish for papaya,
as their fruits are quite similar.
It is in the same family as the custard apple.
The pawpaw tree/shrub has the largest edible fruit in North America.
The pawpaw has been eaten for hundreds of years by the
First people to inhabit this country, American Natives and
when the Spanish landed in the 1500's, they were met
by a People who already knew the value of the
The four-petal pawpaw
Lewis and Clark might not have reached the mouth of
Columbia River and found success on their travels,
had it not been for
the supply of pawpaws given
to them by Native people which kept them
alive when their own food ran out.
The pawpaw grows in many places, but is most prolific
East of the Mississippi in River
There are many varieties of this popular plant indigenous
to many geographical locations through out the country.
This fast growing tree has beautiful, delicate red flowers which
blossom into the delicacy that makes it so popular, the
which tastes like Mango, Custard and Banana, all in one.
It is said to be wonderful.
*There are some warnings connected to the pawpaw
Some people have had allergic reactions to the fruit.
Neither the seed, nor the skin of the fruit should be
and the leaves and bark can be irritating to the skin.*
Other uses for various parts of the pawpaw are still in
and its potential medicinal properties are being studied.
There are several varieties of pawpaws in Florida,
some are shrubs and some are trees.
In Central Florida, pawpaws are pollinated by our
Native Zebra/Kite Swallowtail or pawpaw Butterfly.
After they pollinate the pawpaw, they leave behind
their eggs/larvae on the longleafed pawpaw,
which then in turn eat the leaves and the fruit.
All pawpaw leaves are pretty smelly, so not
too many animals want to eat them.
The fruit hanging on the tree is another story,
it is a race every year when they bloom,
to see who or what will get to them first,
either Man or Beast.
Keep this in mind if you are planning to put one in
And if, like us, you happen to have Gopher Tortoises on your
property, the pawpaw fruit is one of their favorite
The pawpaws of Florida
The Beautiful pawpaw - E Deeringothamnus
Four-Petal - E
carteri) possum pawpaw
The Four-Petal pawpaw prefers being in
Sand Pine Scrub Ecosystem.
It is Endangered due to
from over development.
It is now found only in Palm Beach County,
protected in Dickinson State Park.
The Longleaved pawpaw -
The Rugel's - E (1986)
This pawpaw is a low shrub, about 4-8 inches tall
with fruit that is from 1-3 inches.
It is found near New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County.
Its loss of Habitat is caused as usual, by Construction.
It grows best in poorly drained Pine/Saw Flatwoods
The absence of fires results in the eventual death of the plant.
pawpaw - E
- Asimina obovata
This pawpaw is found in Central and Coastal Florida.
It is a shrub that grows to between 6-10 feet
and the fruit is 3 inches.
Photo credit: USDA/Scott
There are over 55 Endangered or Threatened plants in
and they are all conveniently listed
Florida's Federally Listed Plant Species
Places to learn more:
Asimina in Flora of North America
Florida Native Plant Society
Ecosystems of Florida
Lewis and Clark
Ocala National Forest Ecosystem