Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees



 

 Paw Paw (American) - Asimina Triloba

See Also Mountain Paw Paw.(Papaya.)

The Asimina should not be confused with the TROPICAL PAW PAW, or Papaya that is a totally different tree and fruit altogether. Coming from North America, the PawPaw (Asimina) is a fairly tough little tree that will stand fairly low temperatures, but prefers a sunny position and a sheltered spot that gives it protection from cold, drying winds and frost damage to itís blossom that comes very early in the season. Although Asiminaís like full sun they are good trees for planting in a mixed hedge, as unlike most other fruit trees, they will tolerate the shade and appreciate the protection that such conditions will give. Growing on most soil types, the PawPaw does not like chalk and does prefer well drained, but moisture retentive soil and can grow up to anything from 10 to 50 feet in height if not kept pruned.

As the large new leaves develop, (up to 12 inches long and 6 inches wide) the young foliage may temporarily look yellow on this deciduous tree. The maroon, or purple/brown flowers that open from late winter, are followed by a 3 inch long, yellow brown, oval, fruit which will ripen in the late summer/autumn when its skin develops light black blotches and is edible when it has softened. Unfortunately, the aromatic stoned fruit that is reminiscent of an Avacado with orange coloured pulp and which has an unusual, custard like flavour, doesnít keep for long unless kept chilled in a fridge. A serious  must be given with this plant as the large brown seeds within the fruits are poisonous and also some people find that its leaves can act as an irritant. In many respects this is one of the easier, of the exotic fruit trees, to grow, as it is quite hardy, but successful fruiting will depend on a mild spring, warm summer and may even require hand pollination to set the fruit, although PawPaws are technically self fertile.

 

Mountain Paw Paw (Papaya)- Carica Candamarensis.

As with a lot of plants Caricas have been re-named and Carica Candamarensis is now often listed as Vasconcellea Pubescens.
The Mountain Paw paw is actually a relative of the tropical Papaya, but coming from the Highlands of Ecuador it is considerably hardier and is quite capable of withstanding light frosts, although here in the U.K. it might be best treated as a conservatory plant. Alternatively the Mountain Paw Paw can be planted in a large tub and taken into shelter before the first frosts of Winter.

Growing to only some 6-9 feet this Carica is much smaller than most of its tropical cousins and as such should happily reach fruiting size in a tub placed in a sunny position on a sheltered yard. Plants have both male and female flowers and, so are self-fertile, although as with many plants, better pollination will occur with additional plants. The fruits of the Mountain Paw Paw are oval and 2-8 inches long with a yellowy orange colour. Mature plant will easily produce some 60 or more fruits that each contains a lot of seeds. The small fragrant fruits can be eaten fresh from the plant, but are best cooked in jams and sauces, or eaten as stewed fruit.

Caricas generally are very quick growing plants in tropical regions and are often grown to fruiting size as annuals. They have shallow roots, but will withstand drought conditions quite well and are relatively short lived, evergreens. Liking well drained soil, Carica Candamarensis, has a smaller, stouter trunk than its tropical relatives, but like them has ornamental, deeply cut leaves that make the plant very desirable in their own right.

As with a lot of plants that are moving into greater cultivation around the World, the medicinal properties of the Caricas are being explored and it has been found that the latex of the plants contains a protein that has excellent properties that help open wounds and sores to heal.

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