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Edible Mountain - What Is A Paw Paw?

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You may have heard of the Paw Paw, but how much do you really know about this mysterious Appalachian fruit? Learn about the Paw Paw from WVU Core Arboretum Director Zack Fowler!

Paw Paws are the only member of the Asimina family that do not grow in the tropics—instead they grow here in Appalachia. But they certainly taste tropical. They've never been commercialized because they only last about three days on the shelf.

How did this tropical fruit tree with a big, heavy seed get to Appalachia? The theory is that extinct megafauna like woolly mammoths and ground sloths moved the Paw Paw into this region thousands of years ago.

The banana-mango-like Paw Paw starts to ripen in early September; which makes it the perfect time to get out in woods, find one and enjoy!

If you want to try and grow a Paw Paw, save the seeds and plant in March or April. Water well, and expect to wait until July or August before you see it start to sprout.

Edible Mountain is a bite-sized, digital series from WVPB that showcases some of Appalachia’s overlooked and underappreciated products of the forest while highlighting their mostly forgotten uses.

Disclaimer: Folks, we hope that you take caution when entering the forest. Please always be aware of your surroundings, while treading lightly, so as to not disturb the natural joy and wonder that our wilderness provides.

Although most of the flora or fauna described in Edible Mountain has been identified by experts in the field, it is critical to your health and safety that you properly identify any item in the forest before eating or touching it. If you are uncertain about anything, please leave it alone and ask for an expert’s advice. Many dangerous plants and fungi share similar properties, which make them easily confused with their nonlethal relatives.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) wants you to discover, protect and enjoy your natural surroundings. We do not want to see you harmed. Please harvest sustainably so that the bounty can be enjoyed by future generations.

The information contained within Edible Mountain is for general information purposes only. WVPB assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on this service. WVPB make no guarantees as to the accuracy of the information presented, and any action you take upon the information in this program is strictly at your own risk.

In no event shall WVPB or contributors be liable for any special, direct, indirect, consequential or incidental damages or any damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tort, arising out of or in connection with the use of the service or the contents of the service. WVPB reserves the right to make additions, deletions, or modification to the contents on the service at any time without prior notice.

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