How do I distinguish pawpaw cultivars?

Asked September 22, 2017, 10:20 PM EDT

Pawpaw thrive where I live. I get fruit but not a lot so, as I understand it, I must have different cultivars. I'd like to try hand pollination but how do I distinguish one cultivar from another? I hope you don't suggest buying several cultivars because there are hundreds of pawpaw on my property alone already (and many more nearby) so it seems kind of crazy to plant more. Thanks!

Montgomery County Maryland trees and shrubs pawpaw trees

1 Response

Poor pollination is a problem in pawpaws and is the reason they don't always fruit in abundance. You are correct that cross-pollination will help. There is no way you would be able to visibly tell the difference between cultivars that are in a wild stand of trees. Pawpaw trees reproduce by suckering (in addition to seeds), so if you have several trees that are in very close proximity to each other, they are potentially all clones of the mother plant and have the same genetics. Your best bet would be to try cross-pollinating between trees that are not located right next to each other, so that you are crossing different varieties. Another option would be to purchase one pawpaw tree to serve as a pollen source from an unrelated variety. There is a good demonstration of the cross-pollination process in the following video from Kentucky State University.