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What do pawpaw seedlings look like? (American pawpaw, Asimina, not papaya)

 
Rebecca Norman
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A friend met on this forum sent me some pawpaw seeds in December (I'm talking about American pawpaw, Asimina triloba, no relation to the papaya that Australians call pawpaw). I planted 5 seeds in the flower bed in my greenhouse in January, and kept the rest stratifying in damp packing in the root cellar, and planted them in containers in the greenhouse or in place outside in March.

Yesterday there were a few new seedlings in the flower bed, a bit fleshy, and at first they looked the same but then I realised some were probably just calendula, but one looks a little different. I'm so eager to know if the pawpaw has sprouted! I googled "Asimina seedling", seed leaves, germination, etc, and couldn't find any photos of the seed leaves, and I'm just dying of curiosity and eagerness!
Unknown seedling maybe asimina.JPG
[Thumbnail for Unknown seedling maybe asimina.JPG]
Could this be a pawpaw seedling?
 
Michael Qulek
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What you are looking at now are the first cotolydens that develop from a sprouting seed. Most cotolydens don't look anything like the mature leaves of a plant. Mature paw paw have a somewhat lancelate oval shaped leaf that is reminicent of a stone-age folsum point.

Pawpaw has realatively large seeds, hence relatively large seedlings. You can differenciate them by size. Little weed seeds that might have blown into the pot will have little seedling less than 1cm across. What you might do is tease away a little of the soil to expose the seed, without killing the seedling. Then you'll know for sure.
 
duane hennon
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hi Rebecca

that does not look like a pawpaw to me
the cotyledons or "food leaves" stay in the ground
see: http://www.uky.edu/hort/sites/www.uky.edu.hort/files/pages-attachments/Seedling%20emergence%20patterns.pdf

in my experience ,
the brown seed coat normally comes up out of the ground with the sprout
and the stem isn't so fleshy
and the leaves aren't that big so soon.

but check to see if you can see the split seed coat in the ground around the seedling
that would indicate it's a pawpaw
 
Dan Grubbs
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The pawpaw website of the Kentucky State University is one of the single best respositories of information and research about pawpaws, North America's tropical fruit. In my opinion, the best tasting fruit on the planet.

http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/

 
Dan Grubbs
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Woops, I didn't recognize the URL that Duane shared. My bad. Guess you get two endorsements for the website.
 
Angelika Maier
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I bought pawpaw seeds from different companies but they never sprouted. Do they have to be fresh?
 
Akiva Silver
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Pawpaws lift their seeds out of the ground with it attached to the sprout. Those are definitely not pawpaws. I expect very slow germination from pawpaws. They often don't sprout until the middle or even the end of summer. It takes patience to grow them from seed, but germination rates are usually very high.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thank you all! The seedling id lesson and the Kentucky pawpaw website are great links, thanks! I'll try to be patient. Phooey!
 
Angelika Maier
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Akiva did you buy seeds from seed suppliers or did you use your own seed?
 
Dan Grubbs
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I'm looking for some ideas. I lost all 8 of my pawpaw seedlings that I planted last year due to sun burn. I had them planted in orchard fashion and I had them just to the east of a riparian zone thinking it would shade the afternoon sun off them. After planting they leafed out nicely and were thriving until August came along and burned them up. Sadly, that strategy didn't work ... so observe and adopt to feedback. Now, I've planted 10 more pawpaw in orchard fashion out in a more open area and so I know I need to shade them for two years before they can survive direct sunlight. So, I'm asking for ideas to create/build some type of temprary shade that can be durable enough to withstand our weather and windy conditions while providing filtered light for the young seedlings for 2-3 years.

 
Cris Bessette
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Dan Grubbs wrote:..... So, I'm asking for ideas to create/build some type of temprary shade that can be durable enough to withstand our weather and windy conditions while providing filtered light for the young seedlings for 2-3 years.



I planted my paw paw seedlings near or under other small trees or plants that were already existing ( to mimic their natural forest edge type lighting situation )
As they have gotten older, I cut away more and more of the "nurse plants".

If you are out in the open though, some kind of frame and greenhouse type shade cloth should be sufficient.
 
duane hennon
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chris said:

"I planted my paw paw seedlings near or under other small trees or plants that were already existing ( to mimic their natural forest edge type lighting situation )
As they have gotten older, I cut away more and more of the "nurse plants".

"If you are out in the open though, some kind of frame and greenhouse type shade cloth should be sufficient."



yes, the best way is near trees or plants to give the protection needed (besides the favored soil conditions)

But i've had good luck in the open with those 3 pronged tomato cages with some shade cloth on the top
and plant some fast growing "nurse plants" around them

keep them mulched and well watered
the root hairs are slow to develop

 
Paul Ewing
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Mine all look like dead sticks.
 
Dan Grubbs
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Thanks much. I like the idea of using the tomato cages with some old cloth attached. Thanks for sharing the good idea.
 
Dan Grubbs
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What do you guys think of this solution for shades for the pawpaw seedlings? The shades are wired to a deeply sunk stake (5ft conduit). We'll see how flimsy they become in the tough winds, but for now, at least these tender seedlings are protected from the sun. A little bit of welded wire and some thrift-store bed sheets torn into smaller rectangles that I tied to the wire. Sort of goofy, but if it works, it was a cheap solution to keep my trees from dying.

Shade-1.JPG
[Thumbnail for Shade-1.JPG]
Shade-2.JPG
[Thumbnail for Shade-2.JPG]
Shade-3.JPG
[Thumbnail for Shade-3.JPG]
 
duane hennon
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looks good

it should also prevent death by the other killer of pawpaw seedlings - lawn mowers!
 
Rebecca Norman
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That looks fabulous, as long as wind doesn't knock it over. Should the shade be as solid as a bedsheet like that? I was thinking of a similar cage but just poking sticks across and through it, to make dappled shade that wouldn't catch as much wind. But my pawpaw seeds haven't sprouted yet. My original posted photo turned out to be calendula (a flower).

Also for baby trees, should you really have such dense grass growth right around it? It might be nice for the trees if you mulch over and/or pull up the grass closest to the base, at least till they get established.
 
Dan Grubbs
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@Rebecca -- Yup, you guessed it, we'll be poking some holes in the cloth soon to try to simulate dappled sunlight as in the understory of a riparian zone. I used a long piece of conduit to stake the cages in the ground, but I may have to put two in to be sure these don't blow away or around the one stake. I have some lengths of rebar I can use to do that. I also have a very large pile of lovely finished compost that I'm going to put around each tree and then mulch them with straw to supress any competition. I don't have my comfrey yet, but I will be planting comfrey under these to help on several fronts.

@duane -- You speak the truth about mowers. It would be so very easy to mow these off and not even know it. The cages provide great protection from mowers and the plentiful deer that are always on the property.

When they start to grow more, I'll post some photos.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Hooray! Some unique sprouts have appeared in the containers I planted pawpaw seeds in. I planted them in containers in the warm greenhouse in March, and nothing happened till late June.
Pawpaw seedling emerging 28June.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pawpaw seedling emerging 28June.jpg]
This appeared and stayed about the same from June 20 to July 10
Pawpaw 15 July leafless.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pawpaw 15 July leafless.jpg]
Then it straightened upwards and looked like this for several days
Pawpaw 15 July leafy.jpg
[Thumbnail for Pawpaw 15 July leafy.jpg]
Around July 10 this one emerged, first as a leafless little stick.
 
Dan Grubbs
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That's awesome, Rebecca. Glad to see the sprouts. Be sure they are in "dappled" sunlight or they will burn up. I'm told I need to keep them in shade for the first 1-2 years as saplings, then they should be hardy enough to deal with direct sun after that. I'm very excited about these threes and will be planting at least 10 more next year on our swales.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Thanks! I've got them tucked in under a tree now. They are in containers about 12 inches (30 cm) tall. I hope that allows their roots to do their thing and stay happy.

Should I plant them out in their permanent sites next spring?
 
Dan Grubbs
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If they are in containers or planters, I might suggest keeping them in there under the tree until next spring. Then, you can transplant, but be mindful of the very long tap root. Many people lose their transplants because they didn't capture enough tap root or they damaged the tap root when they made the transition. Once transplanted, be sure to watch the saplings for heat stress, but if they've made it into their second year, chances are very good they will deal with the sun. I know you can't really call the experts at Kentucky State University's pawpaw research program, but they do respond to email questions. I believe they are some of the world's leading experts on propagating pawpaw trees.

http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/

 
Rebecca Norman
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Okay, I'll keep them under the tree till spring, and then plant them out carefully, cutting off the bottom of the containers and lifting them off after the soil of the pots is standing in the holes. I hope it works!
 
John Saltveit
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Yes, transplant in the spring AFTER they have leafed out, but just after. Their roots are too brittle before. I have transplanted many pawpaws with almost 100% success. Dig your hole that you want it to go into before you remove it, so you can gently place it, intact into its new home. Don't put it into real sun until after year 1 or two. They absolutely need summer watering. Ours get burned leaves in the summer at least for first several years due to our dry summers.

The seeds have to remain moist or they will dry up and die and never sprout-they are like citrus.

Remember their native habitat: they grow naturally in a paw paw patch, shaded by "grownups", until big. They live natively in summer rain and humidity areas, like back east and south. They are quite hardy.
John S
PDX OR
 
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