Hampton Roads’ Secret Fruit
If you’re lucky, one of Hampton Road’s best kept secret might be growing on a tree in your own backyard. Better yet, if you reside in the Southside, you’ve probably even come across this delectable fruit and may not have even known it! Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), one of the largest edible fruit trees in North America, is native, and quite common to the forested areas of southern Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.
On late summer days, MAP Environmental Inc. staff frequently encounters pawpaw while tromping around the local woods and wetlands. In fact, we have encountered numerous dense stands of pawpaw in southern Chesapeake in the past week! Pawpaw trees, the largest edible fruit trees native to North America, produce greenish-blackish fruit, usually three to six inches long. The flesh is pale to bright yellow and contains a network of glossy, dark brown seeds. A pawpaw’s flavor is tropical and reminds one of a mango-banana-citrus fruit.
Interestingly, a pawpaw has a rather unassuming appearance on the outside; in fact, its quite easy to walk or pass by a tree with an abundance of this fruit. If you are fortunate enough to encounter them in the field, it best to simply reach for a ripe one. Pawpaw are typically ripe – at least locally – in late Summer or early Fall. When you encounter one, the best way to enjoy them is right there in the woods, tearing into it and having at it !
Next time you are out and about and tromping around the local woods and wetlands, seek out this enticing, secret fruit and enjoy 😊