Big Flower PawPaw

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Rising from the sand, a cacophony of scents repel and entice.

Big Flower PawPaw, Asimina obovata, is endemic to Florida. It is a shrubby perennial that makes its home in the hot white sands of the Florida Scrub. PawPaw grows from a deep tap root to a height between 3 and 10 feet. Dark green leaves are of an obovate shape similar to a spatulate. Leaf length is 2 to 5 inches and 1 to 2 inches wide. The foliage of the PawPaw is malodorous or foul smelling.  This is an adaption to ward off herbivores.

PawPaw’s flower is fragrant and quite showy. The corolla or bloom consists of six greenish to white petals. Three long and fluffy petals are on the outside with three smaller petals at center of the corolla covering  several pale green pollen bearing stamens.  The flower is about four inches in diameter. Edible fruit grows in clusters of yellowish green berries. The principle pollinator is a beetle.

PawPaw  quickly resprouts from frequent scrub fires.  There are ten species included in the genus Asimina. I photographed the specimen in the picture in the scrub around the Archbold Biological Station near Lake Placid.

 

Dorothy Rodwell