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Will these pawpaw shoots grow into trees and make a grove?

 
pollinator
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Welcome, Mr. Judd!  I have wanted to grow paw paw ever since first trying one. Just got my first harvest this year (two fruits).

I have a question about the shoots that the trees produce.  My two trees are four years old now, and have begun putting up a lot of shoots within about ten foot radius of main trunks.  If I leave these be, will they grow into trees in their own right, forming a grove?  Also, are the shoots beneficial to the “parent” tree?
 
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According to Dave Jacke and Eric Toesmeier's OUTSTANDING book Edible Forest Gardens: Volume One, the Paw Paw "forms long-lived thickets; it is conceivable that a single individual could live for thousands of years by sending up new shoots to replace the old."(page 309 in Appendix One).    Pretty cool.
 
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Those shoots are also good for digging up and giving to friends to start their own groves.

I bought some itty bitty paw paw "trees" ( not even big enough to qualify as whips,) from a couple of nurseries, but then someone with so many baby shoots all around her big paw paw trees that she had trouble getting to the trees for the fruit let me dig up many of those shoots for myself and to give to friends. Those dug up root suckers have been much happier than the nursery-bought ones. Also, the ones I kept in pots, getting only a little direct sunlight seem much happier than the ones I planted out in direct sunlght. I plan to put them in the ground next spring while they are still dormant.

I have also found that they are NOT deer proof. Maybe the deer don't like them, but they only decide that after they have munched all the leaves and even yanked them up, so I do now have little chicken wire fences around them. I am also considering putting agribon or fine netting around the chicken wire to cut down on the direct light going to the ones in direct sun.

They also definitely like water and don't mind wet feet. I have three who have thrived in an unheateed greenhouse in 5-gallon buckets with no drainage and always damp soil.

All that being said, they are definitely not big trees at this point, just healthy whips.

I am in zone 5.
 
pollinator
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https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/pawpaw

Other Common Name: Papaw; Paw Paw; American Custard Apple; Missouri Banana
Family: Annonaceae (custard apples)
Description: Pawpaw is a large shrub to small tree with a slender trunk and broad crown; grows in colonies.

Leaves are alternate, simple, 6–12 inches long, 3–5 inches wide, broadest above the middle; margin lacking teeth; upper surface green; lower surface pale; emitting an odor when bruised.

Bark is light ash to dark brown, thin, smooth, later becoming warty with blotches.

Twigs are slender, olive-brown, often blotched, smooth, becoming rougher when older, often with a warty surface. Emits a disagreeable odor when crushed; terminal bud velvet brown, lacking scales; flower bud rounded, overwinters on previous year’s twig.

Flowers March–May; perfect (with male and female parts in same flower), dark reddish purple, solitary, drooping, about 1 inch across, appearing before the leaves and with an odor of fermenting purple grapes.

Fruits September–October. Banana-shaped, cylindrical, 3–5 inches long, green at first and yellow when ripe; pulp sweet, edible, with custardy texture.
Size:

Height: to 30 feet; grows in colonies.

Grows in dense shade on moist lower slopes, ravines, valleys, along streams, and at the base of wooded bluffs. Produces suckers from the roots, forming groves or thickets. The leaves turn yellow in autumn and remain on the tree late into the season. Pawpaw is a member of a tropical family and has no close relatives in Missouri. In nature, it is associated with sweet gum, river birch, sycamore, and roughleaf dogwood.

 
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Mk Neal wrote:Welcome, Mr. Judd!  I have wanted to grow paw paw ever since first trying one. Just got my first harvest this year (two fruits).

I have a question about the shoots that the trees produce.  My two trees are four years old now, and have begun putting up a lot of shoots within about ten foot radius of main trunks.  If I leave these be, will they grow into trees in their own right, forming a grove?  Also, are the shoots beneficial to the “parent” tree?



The shoots will become trees and form a thicket but that will slow down fruit production as it shades itself out sometimes I’ll let a shoot ten feet away grow to establish a properly sourced ‘orchard’ ideally these shoots get grafted (which is done easily) especially if you don’t know the genetics of the rootstock. 10-12 ft is recommended spacing for productive trees in full sun.

The ‘paw paw’ is a long lived root system potentially living for hundreds of years, that will continuously send up shoots that live an avg of 20-30 years. So (are the shoots beneficial to the parent) yes but not optimal for fruiting.
 
stephanie gelfan
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Michael, Thank you for this: "The shoots will become trees and form a thicket but that will slow down fruit production as it shades itself out .... 10-12 ft is recommended spacing for productive trees in full sun."

That tells me that I should keep putting my dug up shoots where they will get full sun....and does that sound right, that I should give them some protection from full sun while they are still whips? (Like their mama would if they weren't dug up?)
 
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