Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch

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A cluster of not quite ripe Paw Paws

Paw Paws! This right here is a sight sure to bring a huge smile to Pa’s face. I gotta be honest with y’all here, this time of year he gets a little difficult to live with. Why? You ask? Well, because he has nothing but Paw Paws on his mind, knowing they are sure to be getting ripe and falling off the trees. There just ain’t no point in trying to converse with him at times, as he is so absorbed in thoughts and dreams of Paw Paws.

Pa had already made a trek into the Paw Paw forest that our dear friends allow us to harvest as many as we can carry out. With deer season fast approaching, we made another trip out to gather as many as we could. I thought I would take you on the journey with us. So, settle in and come along with us.

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After driving a good thirty minutes, and parking the truck, we started our long haul down the path. Looky there on the right, do you see what I see?

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Pa says, “Look at all them baby Paw Paw trees!”

Pa sees them too, he’s so excited.

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Just look at all them! A whole mess of baby Paw Paw trees. Pa is already researching ways to transplant these babies.

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But we aren’t even close to the Paw Paw forest, we must move on.

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We have to go round the bend where you can see the river from the walkway.

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Here is the entrance (or at least the one we used). Nothing like an archway of beautiful Paw Paw trees framing the way to utter deliciousness. At this point, we could smell them in the air, and promptly began to find several ripe fruit on the ground. As long as they weren’t covered in ants, we were harvesting all we could find.

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The bark of a Paw Paw tree

I thought I would get you all a good shot of the bark of a Paw Paw tree. As you can see, they are not huge thick trees. We did run across some old timers that were a good six to ten inches in diameter, and probably a good fifty to sixty feet tall. This one is probably three to four inches in diamter, and tem to fifteen feet tall.

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They have large leaves that fan out in an alternating pattern, and are quite tropical looking. I think they are beautiful.

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Found along river bottoms, generally on the second step up is where you will find them.

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When they are ripe, they will fall from the trees to the forest floor. This one has gone too far, poor little Paw Paw. How do you harvest them? Well, you give that tree a good shake and wait for the resounding thud thud thud as they hit the ground. Don’t make the mistake that I did, in looking up as you shake the tree. Them babies hurt when they hit you between the eyes if they are not quite ripe (they are quite hard). If, however, they are that perfect ripeness, soft and yellow, they will splatter all over your face.

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I also used the pick pole, just a gentle tug, and if they fall into the basket, then we are talking. If they don’t want to fall right off the tree, then they need to ripen a bit longer.

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Pa’s perfect Paw Paw

Pa picked up this Paw Paw and said he thought he had just found the most perfect Paw Paw he had ever harvested, so I told him he best be getting a picture of it.

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Snails like Paw Paws too. That’s okay, i let him have this one, as I filled my bag, while Pa wandered away to fill his five gallon bucket.

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Unfortunately, sometimes when you shake a tree, the Paw Paw hits something unforgiving (other than my face, that is) and just splatters. So here’s some Paw Paw guts for you. Every Paw Paw has seeds, as you can see here. How’d ya like to put that in your pocket?

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A couple that fell off the tree in tact. They are small, but they’ll eat just fine. Don’t ask about the arm, I AM accident prone, don’t ya know? Let’s just say I had a run in with one of the goats, and yeah, Brownie won that battle.

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Deep in the canopy of the Paw Paw forest, where everything was dark and earthy, I spied a bright patch of orange and found these at the base of a huge old tree.

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Here is a close up of them. Aren’t they gorgeous? I welcome any information anyone might know about this beautiful fungi.

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Well, we picked and tromped, and tromped and picked until we had an overfull five gallon bucket and my bag full. I would guess we left the forest with no less than fifty pounds of Paw Paws. Thought I would give you one last look before we all head back to the farm.

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Here’s a few of what we gathered. Keep a close watch on us, as my next post will be on how I processed all these beautiful Paw Paws.

And with that, I’m off!

Ma

12 thoughts on “Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch

  1. Great post, pics and info! Thanks for sharing! Those beautiful orange mushrooms you’ve found on your paw paw hunt are best known as Jack o’ lantern mushrooms, and they’re poisonous. They’re the only “look alike” mushroom that might be confused with an edible form of bracket fungi known as “chicken of the woods” or “sulfur shelf” (Laetiporus sulphureus). The differences are distinct enough that it’s easy enough to tell them apart. Jack o’ lanterns = poisonous, and chicken of the woods = delicious! Speaking of which, their season is fast approaching, along with another one that likes oak trees, “Hen of the woods”. If you’re not already familiar, look em up! Happy hunting and keep the info coming!

  2. They are most certainly legendary but far from extinct. What to do, what to do, well we pureed most of what we didn’t sell at the farmers market for use in things like bread(paw paw bread is fantastic), Ma wants to try her hand at some paw paw jam and I am thinking paw paw pancakes seem in order. You can basically use them in any recipe you would normally use bananas. Smoothies and Ice cream seem another good option. I gotta stop I’m getting hungry. Pa.

  3. Found you on Permies….I am in Jones and I tried to grow a pawpaw last year but it died…(
    Not too many people know about these trees…..if you’ve got any seeds, I could surely use a few..:)

    • Well man, this last year was definitely a bumper crop year for paw paws and had you hit me up right after I made the post I would have gladly hooked you up with a sack full of seed. I sent seed all over the US and even some to Australia but they have long since dried up. See paw paw seed does not store well so if I end up with any at all this year you will be the first one I get ahold of. Thanks for stopping by, come on back we gotta lot of good stuff workin here on the OKA.

  4. i love your posts. Lots of info. I truly need some paw paw seeds maybe I can get on your list for next year.First of all my name is Mary and my grandfather sang that song to me evey time he saw me. Second just got cancer this past yrs and took paw paw capsules and had surgery but would love to grow some of the trees, and I just love to grow stuff have a small but growing every yr garden and a decent sized greenhouse. Working on heat for next winter, new at this but love it. Please contact me either way.

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