Watch Out for Falling Pawpaws

The fruit on my pawpaws is not particularly large this year, but there seems to be quite a bit of it.

Pawpaws crowding a spot in the sun. Photographed on July 17, 2020.

I’ve been picking up drops since mid-June until about a week ago, when tossed became a more accurate description—most of the pawpaws now have bites taken out of them. The fruit will not ripen until late September or early October, and in the meantime both the flesh and skin are extremely bitter. Pickings must be slim out there for my wild and furry neighbors.

I was taking a break Wednesday morning, pulling wood sorrel and picking up fruit, when an unfamiliar bird caught my ear, so I looked up—straight up. I’m glad I had my phone. Lots of pawpaws! I will need a hard hat by early fall.

A couple of hands of pawpaws, at least 10–12 feet up. Photographed on August 19, 2020.

Right now the weather is quiet, as are the raccoons, but there are enough heavily laden branches on the east tree to be a danger to the tree if raccoons go out on a limb to test the fruit, or we have an energetic storm. Several years ago, a trio of adolescent raccoons went out on a limb after a particularly large and sweet-smelling pawpaw that I had been eying myself. They had been plaguing that tree, and the neighbor’s pear tree, all summer. The entire limb tore off and was left hanging by a strip of bark. Fortunately, it was low-lying fruit on the lowest limb of all, so I was able to tidy the damage easily.

I will be looking up carefully before I stand around under that tree for the rest of this growing season.