Thursday, October 16, 2008

Squirrel Hunting The Pawpaw Patch

This was a squirrel hunt with my friend Bob C. in his pawpaw patch near Washington MO. We just saw one squirrel and ended up looking for pawpaws most of the evening.

The pawpaw tree, Asimina triloba, yields 3- to 5-inch-long fruit, the largest fruit native to the United States. Pawpaws taste like a cross between a banana and a mango and look like pears. The huge black seeds, big enough to choke a horse, take up a lot of space where the fruit is located. If the gods ever do a redesign of the pawpaw I hope they shrink the seeds down a bit for more space for the delicious fruit.

The name, also spelled paw paw, paw-paw, and papaw, probably derives from the Spanish papaya, perhaps due to the superficial similarity of their fruit. Pawpaws have many other common names such as prairie banana, Indiana (Hoosier) banana, West Virginia banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Missouri Banana, and Ozark banana.

The earliest documentation of pawpaws is in the 1541 report of the de Soto expedition, who found Native Americans cultivating them east of the Mississippi River. The Lewis and Clark Expedition sometimes subsisted on pawpaws during their travels. Chilled pawpaw fruit was a favorite dessert of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson was certainly familiar with it as he planted it at Monticello.

As kids we used to sing a song about pawpaws.


Where O where is pret-ty lit-tle Su-sie?
Where O where is pret-ty lit-tle Su-sie?
Where O where is pret-ty lit-tle Su-sie?
Way down yon-der in the paw-paw patch

Where O where is pretty little Susie?
Where O where is pretty little Susie?
Where O where is pretty little Susie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

Pickin' up paw-paws, puttin' um in her pockets, etc.

Come on, boys, let's go find her, etc.


Phillip said...

If you nature boys would quit playing with your fruits and nuts, you might've seen more squirrels.

Tom Sorenson said...

I have nothing to add to Phillip's comment - in fact, I couldn't type it if I could! So funny.

Seriously, though - I'm interested in Pawpaws...never heard of them till now. Will have to see if they grow in our area.

Jesses Hunting And Outdoors said...

Hey, us nature boys love them pawpaws more than a squirrel fricassée.

Tom, pawpaws are a midwest thing. Not sure if you can grow them in other parts of the country, but's it's worth a check as they are sooooo good.