Pawpaw – Ahzzamintz (AH-zah-mintz)

Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit indigenous to Piscataway homelands. They have a sweet flavor, similar to a banana. Piscataway ancestors would eat the fruit straight from the tree or mash it into a sauce used with cornbread. Photo: Katie Lohr/NOAA

a green leefy plant with green berry-like fruit

A Further Piscataway Perspective

Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit indigenous to our Piscataway homelands. They have a sweet flavor somewhat similar to a banana, mango, or cantaloupe. Our ancestors would commonly consume Pawpaws raw straight from the tree; or they mashed the fruit into small, dried cakes and used it as a sauce with cornbread.

The Pawpaw is a small tree that produces a large, yellowish-green to brown fruit. The tree commonly grows in floodplains and shady, rich lowlands. It often forms a dense undergrowth in the forest, appearing as a patch of individual small slender trees.

The fruits begin developing after the tree flowers, at that time they are initially green. As they mature by late August to mid-September the fruit changes color to a yellow or brown. When mature, the heavy fruits bend the weakened branches downward.

The fruit is eaten by a variety of mammals, including raccoons, gray foxes, opossums, squirrels, and black bears.

The tough, fibrous inner bark of the tree was used by our ancestors for making ropes, fishing nets and for stringing fish.

Pawpaw Tree