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My cherimoya, shortly before it became smoothie fodder.

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October 23, 2006

Periodic Pawpaw Piece

Every six months or so, some element of the mainstream press rediscovers pawpaws. This time it's the Washington Post:

In Pursuit of the Elusive Pawpaw

Anybody out there ever tried to germinate pawpaw seeds? I haven't, but I've tried my hand at cherimoya seeds (same family, Anonaceae), and they're a pain. The article's suggestion to "just to scatter the seeds of several varieties informally, cover them with mulch and see what seedlings emerge" made me wonder how likely that is to be successful...

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At 11/01/2006 09:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know I should probably be concentrating on other things right now, like school or NaNoWriMo, but I saw the pawpaw piece and had to put in my two cents.

When I was living in the South Pacific, I had several papaya trees at my house. It was wonderful to be able to wake up and have a fresh papaya in the morning. Eventually I learned how to make a passable papaya jam, something I did simply because there was no way for me to use all the papaya my trees were producing.

Sadly, a wicked storm blew through and knocked two of my better trees down. I planted some seeds from my last remaining fruit-bearing tree, and was fortunate to have several more trees take root. I thought I was in back in business.

Unfortunately, only one of the new trees bore fruit. As the other trees started to bear flower rather than fruit, my Kiribati neighbors began to lament with me (I shared the fruit with them) that all the new trees were female. "Female?" said I. "But no. The female trees bear fruit, just like the female human bears children."

But they wouldn't have it. Clearly a man would never be caught doing something so girlie as sprouting flowers, so those trees had to be female. That, of course, left the male trees as the fruit-bearing (and more desirable) trees. I was never able to convince anyone otherwise, so eventually I just gave in.

Oh, and one other note. One of my flower-bearing papaya trees took root and shot up like a weed. I was amazed by its fast growth, and a little dismayed when I learned the tree would bear me no fruit. I was tempted to cut it down and try planting anew there. Fortunately, before I did that, it dawned on me why the tree was growing so well. It had tapped into the motherlode; I had planted it just in front of my outhouse.


At 11/06/2006 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Evil Fruit Lord said...

It might be worth noting that the pawpaws in the case of the above comment are papayas, not the American pawpaw, Asimina triloba. No relation, aside from the name and vague similarities in appearance.

At 4/30/2008 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Frutiferus Maximus said...

Late comment, but I just noticed your post and saw that your question had gone unanswered...

I have germinated both cherimoya and pawpaw (Asimina triloba). The cherimoya seeds I just kept warm and moist. They took their sweet time, but sprouted eventually. The pawpaws I chilled in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for a few months before planting in containers.

The pawpaws did well, and several years later I still have them growing in (large) pots outdoors. No blooms yet (and yes, I'm sure I'll have to put them in the ground soon). The cherimoyas thrived at first, and I loved seeing how similar they looked to their pawpaw cousins as they germinated and grew. Unfortunately, after a couple years of very strong growth, the cherimoyas succumbed to spider mites while spending the winter months indoors.

Such are the challenges faced by a hard-headed "after dinner gardener" trying to grow tropical plants in a temperate climate.

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