My friend Stan, who has a knack for collecting and growing out seed of local fruit trees, gave me about twenty pawpaws (Asimina triloba) he grew from local populations of this remarkable native species. Though adapted to the north, the pawpaw bears a fruit reminiscent of mango. Hard to store and ship, the fruit has proven hard to turn into a cash crop, so it remains at the margins of our diets and awareness.
I delivered three to Mountain Lakes, for planting there, then called up my friend and author-of-note Clifford Zink over at Harrison Street Park, to see about starting a pawpaw patch over there.
Last month, we planted three in a swale that receives water from a nearby parking lot--a good urban version of the floodplains that are the pawpaw's preferred habitat.
Around the same time, Bill Sachs gave me some white cedars and hemlocks he'd grown in his backyard. Bill has been leading efforts in town to bring back the native chestnut and butternut. Since white cedars are adapted to swamps, two of them ended up in the Princeton High School ecolab wetland, thanks to environmental science teacher Tim Anderson and his students.
Most of the pawpaws are being saved for planting a pawpaw patch out at the Veblen House site, part of a PawPaw Patch Planting Party, public invited, tentatively scheduled for the first weekend of the new year, El Nino weather permitting.
(Other pawpaw posts can be found by typing pawpaw into the search box at the top of this website.)