Aren't they lovely? Kind of a russet maroon, little bells hanging on my Paw Paw (Asimina triloba). Michael Dirr, one of the plant propagation gurus - whose book I relied on during my horticultural grad work - described Paw Paw blossoms as "lurid purple", which they never, ever deserved. I think he also slanders the blossoms as having a "fetid" odor. Ack.
Lurid purple, indeed. HA. (And I've never noticed that much of an odor at all. Although, in all fairness, by the time I've whacked my way to the back forty orchard where the Paw Paws are, I probably smell pretty fetid myself.)
I never see any insects pollinating them but they do indeed seem to get pollinated, especially now that the clump's getting bigger. Interestingly, Paw Paw blossoms start out as "female" and then develop into "male" blossoms as the pollen develops on the anthers. (For an informative and humorous look at Paw Paw pollination and Paw Paw propagation in Florida, go here:
I love Paw Paws. I love the fruit. I love planting them for the beautiful, beleaguered Zebra Swallowtail butterflies (Eurytides marcellus). Paw Paw foliage is the only food for their larva.
The only substantial native stands of Paw Paws locally are in the Great Dismal Swamp. Two spring-times ago, biking the Dismal Swamp Canal bike path in the early morning sun, so many Zebra Swallowtails swirled around me that I had to stop my bicycle to keep them from being injured by the spokes of the wheels. They had come to lay their eggs on the Paw Paw trees scattered amid the swamp foliage.
I don't begrudge the butterfly caterpillars a bite of my trees, in fact, I'm kind of depressed that I don't get more of the butterflies laying eggs on my Paw Paw trees. I've even planted the beautiful orange milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) you see here in Dave Govoni's photo from the Chesapeake Bay website. Well, actually the milkweed is for both the adult Zebra Swallowtails who feed on its flowers and the larval Monarch butterflies for whom the milkweed foliage is their only host food.
FYI: Field report: so far, no Monarchs OR Zebra Swallowtails seen here this summer.
Anyone else seeing more encouraging signs of our local butterflies?
However, I'm happy to report that I have PAW PAW fruits in progress.
I had to take a picture because to this day, we've never gotten to see, hold or eat a ripe fruit. Blossoms, check. Immature green fruits, check.
Ripe fruit? GONE. Every year.
I need a better plan....