Pawpaw — another fast fruit
Photos and story by Russ Grayson
Common name: Pawpaw, papaya
Botanical name: Carica papaya
Growth form: A small, usually single-stem tree between 3-10 m of tropical, subtropical climates. The tree will grow in coastal warm temperate climates. Large, lobed, palmate-shaped leaves grow from the crown to around 50–70 cm in length. The fruit grows from the crown.
Reproduction: Seed.Centre of diversity: Central/northern South America.
Edible part: Fruit. The fruit is commonly eaten ripe, when it turns yellow. Green, immature fruit is shredded in salads.
Uses in community food garden design: Plant in the community garden’s food forest/tree cropping zone.
Pawpaw is another fast-fruit that grows to edible stage quickly. This enables it to be planted among slower-growing fruit and nut trees to make use of space until the slower-growing trees grow and shade it out. This is accelerated successional planting.
Grow pawpaw in clumps in a warm microclimate sheltered from strong, cold winds.
Notes: Pawpaw, banana, tamarillo and babaco are some of the fast-fruits that yield harvest well before slower growing fruit and nut species like the citrus, macadamia and avocado. They provide an early yield in new community gardens in appropriate climates.