Herb: Papaw


Latin name: Asimina triloba


Synonyms: Annona triloba


Family: Annonaceae (Custard-apple Family)



Medicinal use of Papaw:

The fruit is used as a laxative. The leaves are diuretic. They are applied externally to boils, ulcers and abscesses. The seed contains the alkaline asiminine, which is emetic and narcotic. They have been powdered and applied to hair to kill lice. The bark is a bitter tonic. It contains the alkaline analobine, which is used medicinally.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Deciduous
Shrub

Height:
4.5 m
(15 feet)

Flovering:
May to
June

Habitat of the herb:

An understorey tree of woodlands, growing in deep rich moist soils of river valleys and bottomlands, often forming dense thickets.

Edible parts of Papaw:

Edible fruit - raw or cooked. A very good size, it can be up to 16cm long and 4cm wide. Of variable quality, some forms (with orange skins) are exquisite with the flavour of banana custard whilst others (with yellow, white or dark brown skins) can be unpleasant. Another report says that the white fruits are mildly flavoured and later ripening than the orange fruits. The fruit can also be used for making preserves, pies, ice cream and other sweet desserts. The fruit falls from the tree in autumn and is then stored until fully ripe. The fruit can cause gastro-intestinal upsets for some people.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre from the inner bark is used for making strong rope and string. The seed has insecticidal properties. A yellow dye is made from the ripe flesh of the fruit. Wood - light, soft, weak, spongy, coarse grained. It weighs 24lb per cubic foot. It is not used commercially.

Propagation of Papaw:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15C. Stored seed requires stratification, it has embryo dormancy and an impermeable seedcoat and can take up to 18 months to germinate. Dried seed quickly loses its viability. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for t least their first winter. If trying them outdoors, plant them into their permanent positions in early summer once the plants are more than 15cm tall. Consider giving them some protection from winter cold for their first winter outdoors. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

An understorey tree of woodlands, growing in deep rich moist soils of river valleys and bottomlands, often forming dense thickets.

Known hazards of Asimina triloba:

The seed contains a toxic alkaloid and is poisonous. The leaves can cause dermatitis in a small number of sensitive people. Other reports say that handling the fruit can cause dermatitis.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.