Pawpaw in Hampton Roads!
Who you callin’ a hillbilly mango?! Why, the mysterious pawpaw, of course! One taste of this custardy treat and the nickname will make sense.
Believe it or not, Hampton Roads is fertile ground for an exotic fruit of our own – Asimina triloba– or “pawpaw,” as it is affectionately referred to here in North America. Legend recounts that Spanish explorers mis-identified Asimina triloba as the carribean papaya (hence the nickname “pawpaw”) when they encountered Native American’s cultivating the fleshy fruit near Alabama or Georgia.
Although its popularity has declined over this past century, the pawpaw has played an important role in American folklore from songs and stories, to famed pawpaw patches of generations passed. Even George Washington was known pawpaw aficionado and rumor has it that his favorite dessert recipe was pawpaw ice cream!
As environmental consultants, MAP scientists are fortunate to encounter all sorts of local flora while conducting field investigations on projects in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, etc. While berries and nuts are abundant in Hampton Roads, stumbling upon an exotic fruit that resembles the taste of mango and banana is a sweet surprise! This year, our team has enjoyed a few dozen “custard apples” during our site visits.
So next time you venture out into the woods, be sure to keep a close eye out for these native trees…..what may appear to be a rotting fruit might actually be pawpaw in its prime!