Pawpaw Trees (Brockton, MA)

Pawpaw Tree Branch View

Looking for pawpaw trees in or around the Brockton, Massachusetts area? We have a limited quantity available on a seasonal basis.

Please email and use the subject line “Pawpaw Trees” to join our waiting list. You will receive notifications when our pawpaw trees are available for sale.

Pawpaw Trees (Brockton, MA)

Pawpaw is a tropical fruit that is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.

Pawpaw Tree Leaf View
Here you can see a pawpaw leaf up close.

A pawpaw is the edible fruit of a Pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba). The Pawpaw tree is deciduous and shade-tolerant, often found as an understory tree (living in the shade of other trees).

Pawpaw trees are native to 26 U.S. states and also Canada. In addition, Pawpaw trees have the largest edible fruit that is native to the U.S.!)

A pawpaw tree will create small, maroon or reddish-purple flowers in early spring. The flowers are 1 to 2 inches wide, and they have three lobes (hence the name “triloba”).

The flowers also have a slight yeast smell, which helps them to attract flies and beetles as pollinators.

What Does A Pawpaw Tree Look Like?

A Pawpaw tree is a deciduous tree with light to dark brown bark. The bark is smooth on younger trees, but gains “warts” as it ages, making it a little rougher.

Pawpaw Tree Trunk View
The bark on a pawpaw tree is light to dark brown. It is smooth on young trees, and rough on older trees.

The leaves of a pawpaw tree are green, and they reach 6 to 12 inches long and 3 to 5 inches wide at full size.

Pawpaw Tree Leaves View
Pawpaw leaves are 6 to 12 inches long and 3 to 5 inches wide at full size.

The flowers of a pawpaw tree are up to 2 inches wide. They have a maroon or reddish-purple color. Pawpaw flowers only appear on branches from the previous year.

pawpaw flower
Pawpaw trees create maroon or reddish-purple flowers in early spring. They can be somewhat off-smelling!

The fruit of a pawpaw tree has a cylinder shape with thin, light-green or yellow green skin. The skin of a ripe pawpaw will soon get dark specks (much like a banana).

Pawpaw fruit has light green or yellow-green skin and dark brown or black flecks when ripe (like a banana).

Before long, most of the skin will become dark brown or black, since the fruit doesn’t last long in the open air (refrigerate to make it keep longer).

Although the fruit goes bad fast, it can still get pretty big! A pawpaw fruit can be 1 to 6 inches long and 1 to 4 inches wide, with a weight of 7 to 32 ounces (2 pounds). The fruit can grow alone or in clusters (similar to “bunches” of bananas).

The table below summarizes the appearance of a pawpaw tree to help you identify it.

Trait Pawpaw Tree
TrunkLight to dark
brown bark.
Smooth on young
trees, rough with
warts when older.
6-12 inches long.
3 to 5 inches wide.
FlowersMaroon or
2 inches wide.
Appear on prior
year’s branches.
FruitLight green or
yellow green skin.
Cylinder shape.
1 to 6 inches long.
1 to 4 inches wide.
7 to 32 ounces.
Single or cluster.
This table summarizes the appearance of a pawpaw tree.

How Big Does A Pawpaw Tree Get?

Pawpaw trees can get pretty big! It all depends on the soil, nutrients, watering, and sunlight.

Pawpaw Tree Full View
Pawpaw trees can reach a height and width of 30 feet at maturity!

A pawpaw tree that gets plenty of sunlight can reach a height of 30 feet. Most pawpaw trees will reach a height between 15 to 30 feet at full maturity.

Simiarly, a pawpaw tree can grow to a width of 30 feet – but most trees will grow to a width of 15 to 30 feet.

Where Can I Buy A Pawpaw Tree?

There are lots of places you can buy established pawpaw trees, including:

Your best bet is to buy an established tree, rather than trying to plant from seed (this is true for most fruit trees). A grafted tree will produce fruit much sooner (2-3 years) than seedling trees (10 years).

Pawpaw Tree Branch View
Buy a grafted pawpaw tree to get fruit sooner, rather than trying to start one from seed (or a seedling tree).

Also: you need to buy two trees of different types. That way, the flowers will successfully pollinate (since pawpaw trees are self-incompatible). Plant them 15 to 25 feet apart (depending on variety and size at maturity), since closer trees have a better chance to cross pollinate successfully.

Remember that Pawpaw trees will survive in USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8. Any colder (north of zone 5) and you will need to keep them indoors.

When To Plant (Or Transplant) A Pawpaw Tree

It is difficult to transplant pawpaw trees. The best time to transplant a pawpaw tree is in spring when new growth begins (new branches form) – or shortly after.

If you lose roots during the transplant process, prune back some branches to restore balance. Otherwise, the remaining roots might not be able to support a tree that is too large for them.

To avoid or minimize transplant shock, provide shade to newly transplanted trees for the first year or two. A shade canopy or shade cloth is helpful in this case.

Use a shade cloth or canopy to shield young pawpaw trees from the sun after transplant.

Be sure to keep the tree watered after transplant – and fertilize as well (see below).

Where To Plant A Pawpaw Tree

Plant a pawpaw tree in fertile, well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. A location will full sunlight will yield more fruit at maturity. Pick a spot where you can water easily.

A pawpaw tree will need plenty of water, and it should have fertile soil to grow in. Choose soil that is somewhat acidic to neutral (pH of 5.5 to 7.0). If the soil pH is too high, you can acidify with elemental sulfur prior to planting or transplanting.

sulfur powder
You can use elemental sulfur powder or pellets to acidify soil if the pH is too high.

Also, choose a location that gets plenty of water (or that you can water easily). The soil should drain well (to avoid standing water and root rot).

Pawpaw trees do well with more sunlight, and they will produce more fruit with full sun. However, they can tolerate shade, since they are an understory tree (meaning they often grow in the shadow of other trees).

Just remember to provide some shade during the early years: a shade canopy or shade cloth can help with this.

What Is The Best Fertilizer For Pawpaw Trees?

Stark Brothers suggests fertilizing twice per year (spring and summer – perhaps March and June). Use a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10).

ammonium nitrate
Use a balanced NPK fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) for pawpaw trees.

Kentucky State University suggests 1 ounce of 10-10-10 per tree in the first two years, and then 2 ounces of 10-10-10 per tree after the first two years.

When To Prune Pawpaw Trees

Prune a pawpaw tree from late winter to early spring (do it before the buds open up). Remember that the flowers (and thus fruit) appear on the prior year’s branches.

pruning shears
Prune pawpaw trees in late winter or early spring – do it before the buds open!

Pruning encourages new growth, so give it a try if you have an older pawpaw tree that isn’t producing as much fruit.

If suckers appear at the bottom of the tree (from the roots), pull them up to prevent sprouting. If you want to create more trees, you can remove them off and try to root them, but this is challenging, since they do not transplant well.

Do You Need Two Pawpaw Trees To Get Fruit?

Generally, you do need two papaw trees to get fruit. The reason is that a pawpaw tree is self-incompatible.

This means that one flower on a pawpaw tree cannot pollinate a different flower on the same tree. For best results, get two different types of pawpaw trees for optimal cross-pollination.

Flies and beetles help to pollinate pawpaw trees, but you also need two trees of different types for successful pollination.

Bees do not bother with pawpaw flowers, so the tree relies on flies and beetles for pollination. However, this can also be unreliable.

Your best bet is to hand pollinate with a small-bristle brush (see below).

What Pollinates A Pawpaw Tree?

Flies and beetles are the primary pollinators of a pawpaw tree. The flowers release a somewhat unpleasant odor to attract their favored pollinators. You could say it’s a good strategy, since pawpaw trees do not need to rely on bees for help with pollination!

Remember that pawpaw trees are self-incompatible. This means that in most cases, a pawpaw tree needs pollen from a different tree (not of the same type) for fertilization to occur.

You can also pollinate pawpaw trees yourself. To do this, take a small bristle brush and rub it inside the flower of one pawpaw tree. Then, rub the brush inside the flower of a different pawpaw tree.

Use a small brush with soft bristles to transfer pollen from a flower on on pawpaw tree to a flower of a different tree.

Using two flowers from the same tree won’t work, since pawpaw trees are self-incompatible. You need flowers from two different trees to get fruit.

Go easy on the hand-pollination! Too many pollinated flowers will tax the tree, resulting in smaller fruit or broken branches (due to the weight of too much fruit).

When Does A Pawpaw Tree Bear Fruit?

A pawpaw tree usually bears fruit sometime between August and October. It depends on the variety and whether it produces fruit early or late. The size of your harvest window can also vary, so be sure to pay close attention, since the ripe fruit goes bad – fast!

A pawpaw tree cloned by grafting can produce fruit in only two or three years. This is preferable, since a seedling tree can take ten years to produce fruit. So, when looking to buy pawpaw trees, go for grafted trees to get fruit sooner!

What Is The Lifespan Of A Pawpaw Tree?

A pawpaw tree can live for may decades – possibly 40 years or more.

What Does Pawpaw Fruit Taste Like?

Pawpaw fruit tastes “tropical”. It has a unique combination of flavors from other fruit, such as mango, banana, and pinapple.

The fleshy inside of a pawpaw is soft, kind of like a natural custard (or overripe bananas that have softened up quite a bit). After your remove the seeds and skins, you can blend or mash pawpaw flesh and use it in place of mashed bananas (for example, in traditional banana bread).

pawpaw fruit & seeds
Pawpaw flesh is orange or yellow, depending on variety. Do not eat the skin or seeds, unless you want to feel digestive distress!

What Month Is Pawpaw Fruit Ripe?

Pawpaw fruit is usually ripe in September or October (sometimes as early as August for some varieties). The skin will be yellow-green or light green, depending on the pawpaw variety. The skin of a ripe pawpaw also shows some dark brown or black flecks (similar to what you see on a ripe banana).

Should You Refrigerate Pawpaws?

At full ripeness, pawpaw fruit only lasts a few days at room temperature. Put a ripe pawpaw fruit in the refrigerator to keep if for up to a week.

pawpaw flower buds
Here we see some flower buds on a pawpaw tree.

Refrigerate unripe pawpaw fruit to keep it edible for a bit longer (perhaps 3 weeks). After that, you can take it out and let it ripen up at room temperature.

After you remove the seeds and skin, you can freeze pawpaw flesh for storage. Put the fruit flesh in a freezer bag and mark the bag with the contents and date. Use within a year of freezing.

Can You Eat Pawpaw Raw?

You can eat raw pawpaw fruit. Only eat ripe fruit, and always remove the skin and seeds first.

Also remember that some people are allergic to pawpaw fruit (just like you can have an allergy to apples, citrus (lemon, lime, orange, etc.) and other types of fruit.

pawpaw fruit on branch
A pretty pawpaw painting.

Why Are Pawpaw Fruit Not Sold In Stores?

There are two basic reasons that pawpaw fruit is not sold in stores.

First, it’s hard to grow pawpaw fruit out of season (which is already short: August to October, at best). Scientists and growers might be able to start work on a new variety that can produce fruit year-round. At the moment, though, pawpaw fruit is not popular enough (yet) to make this a reality.

Second of all, pawpaw fruit does not store well. When it is ripe, the fruit lasts a few days at room temperature (less when it is hot in August or September). Even when refrigerated, ripe fruit only lasts a week. You can freeze the fruit’s flesh to make it last longer – but then the fruit is no longer fresh!

Soon after a pawpaw ripens, the dark flecks on its skin start to get bigger. Then, the fruit starts to go bad. This means pawpaws are less marketable on grocery store shelves after just a few days on display.

The total cost of refrigeration, shipping, and spoilage make pawpaws very expensive to keep in stock. Many people would rather buy a bunch of bananas (at a pretty low price) or some pinapple than pay more for pawpaws.

semi truck
A short growing season and the high cost of spoilage (shipping, refrigeration, and so on) means pawpaw fruit is difficult to keep in stock on grocery store shelves.

Where Can I Buy Pawpaw Fruit?

If you live in Massachusetts, please email me at Use the subject line “Pawpaw Fruit” and I will add you to my list. I have some fruit available for sale in season (if all goes well!)

To buy pawpaw fruit elsewhere, check with a local farmers’ market. Most grocery stores don’t stock pawpaws. Specialty stores would only be able to carry pawpaws from August or September to October, when the fruit is in season.

pawpaw tree flowers and buds
Here we see flowers and buds on a pawpaw tree.

I would not order pawpaw fruit online. By the time it is shipped to you, the fruit will probably be bad – even if shipping only takes a couple of days.

Why Are Pawpaws So Rare?

Pawpaws are less well-known than other fruit. As a result, there are fewer farmers or local growers who raise them.

Pawpaw trees are slow-growing, especially when started from seed. So, it takes a long time to grow fruit (especially when they are started from seed).

Growing and selling pawpaws is a challenge. Ripe pawpaw fruit does not keep for a long time, making it difficult to ship and store.

Are There Pawpaws in Massachusetts?

There are pawpaw trees found throughout Massachusetts. Many pawpaw varieties grow in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, and Massachusetts ranges from zone 5a to 7b, making it the perfect place to grow pawpaw trees.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map - Massachusetts
Massachusetts consists of USDA Hardiness Zones 5a through 7b.

Please email with the subject line “Pawpaw Trees” to join our waiting list and get notifications when pawpaw trees are in-season and available for sale.

Where Are Pawpaw Trees Found In Massachusetts?

Pawpaw trees will grow in areas with moist but well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.0 (somewhat acidic to neutral). They can tolerate shade, but they do best in full sun.

Other Fruit Trees In Massachusetts

If you are looking for other good fruit trees to grow in Massachusetts, consider the ones listed here.