Asimina triloba: Pawpaw [papaya, mountain banana].
Family: Annonaceae [custard-apple], part of the magnolioid group.
Form: small tree with running roots, forming colonies in shade.
Range: east-central USA; formerly widespread in Kentucky but now generally rare in farmland.
Habitat: usually in thin woods on rich moist soil; formerly common in central Bluegrass, once “the paradise of pawpaws, where immense orchards of large trees were everywhere met with” (Short 1828).
Consumers: large fruits sought by larger mammals, from possums to people; probably cultivated before 1492, now becoming a modern crop; leaves are generally repellant (including toxic acetogenins), but form the 1only food for caterpillars of Zebra swallowtail butterflies.
Growing notes: seedlings are sensitive to stresses and replanting; rotten meat is sometimes used for flies and beetles to pollinate.