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Common Pawpaw in fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Magnoliids
Order: Magnoliales
Family: Annonaceae
Genus: Asimina
Species: A. triloba
Binomial name
Asimina triloba
(Linnaeus) Michel Félix Dunal

The Common pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a species of pawpaw, native to eastern North America, from southernmost Ontario and New York west to eastern Nebraska, and south to northern Florida and eastern Texas.



Pawpaw is a large shrub or small tree growing to a height of 11 meters (rarely to 14 m) with a trunk diameter of 20-30 cm.

The leaves are deciduous, spirally arranged, broad lanceolate, 15-30 cm long, with an acute apex and an entire margin.

The flowers are produced in early spring at the same time as or slightly before the new leaves appear, each flower dark red, 2-5 cm diameter, with three sepals and six petals; they have a fetid smell.

The fruit is a large yellow-green berry 5-15 cm long, containing several brown, 15-25 mm diameter seeds embedded in the soft, edible fruit pulp.

Conservation status

On a global scale, the common pawpaw has a Global GRANK of G5 (Very Common).

The common pawpaw is considered a threatened species in New York, and an endangered species in New Jersey.

In Canada, it is only found in portions of southern Ontario, where it has a National NRANK of N3 (Vulnerable) and a Provincial SRANK of S3 (Vulnerable). The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has given A. triloba a general status of "Sensitive", and its populations are monitored.


The fruit is rich in fatty acids, the major one being octanoate. They also contain cis-δ9- and cis-δ11-hexadecenoate, cis-δ9-, cis-δ11- and cis-δ13-octadecenoate.

The seeds have been shown to contain the chemicals asimitrin (an adjacent ring-hydroxylated bis-tetrahydrofuran acetogenin) and 4-hydroxytrilobin (an adjacent bis-THF ring with two flanking hydroxyl groups and an α,β-unsaturated γ-lactone with a 4-hydroxyl group).[1] These chemicals seem to have selective cytotoxicity against prostate adenocarcinoma (PC-3) and colon adenocarcinoma (HT-29) cell lines, thus may become a useful chemotherapeutic chemical for these types of cancer.

The leaves also contain toxic annonaceous acetogenins, making them impalatable to most insects.[2] The one notable exception is the zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus), whose larvae feed on the leaves. This confers protection from predation throughout the butterfly's life, as trace amounts of acetogenins remain present, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators.

The bark contains other acetogenins, including asimin, asiminacin and asiminecin, which have been shown to be potent inhibitors of mitochondrial NADH:ubiquinone oxidoreductase,[3] making A. triloba a promising source of pesticide and anti-tumour compounds.

References and external links

  1. ^ Kim EJ, Suh KM, Kim DH, et al. (February 2005). "Asimitrin and 4-hydroxytrilobin, new bioactive annonaceous acetogenins from the seeds of Asimina triloba possessing a bis-tetrahydrofuran ring". J. Nat. Prod. 68 (2): 194–7. doi:10.1021/np040184l10.1021/np040184l. PMID 15730242. 
  2. ^ Martin JM, Madigosky SR, Gu ZM, Zhou D, Wu J, McLaughlin JL (January 1999). "Chemical defense in the zebra swallowtail butterfly, Eurytides marcellus, involving annonaceous acetogenins". J. Nat. Prod. 62 (1): 2–4. doi:10.1021/np980308s10.1021/np980308s. PMID 9917274. 
  3. ^ Zhao GX, Miesbauer LR, Smith DL, McLaughlin JL (June 1994). "Asimin, asiminacin, and asiminecin: novel highly cytotoxic asimicin isomers from Asimina triloba". J. Med. Chem. 37 (13): 1971–6. PMID 8027979. 


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Asimina triloba - pawpaw - desc-flower.jpg


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Ordo: Magnoliales
Familia: Annonaceae
Genus: Asimina
Species: Asimina triloba


Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Dreilappige Papau
English: Common pawpaw
日本語: ポーポー
Türkçe: Papav


Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

  • Monog. Anonac. 83. 1817
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Online Database]. [1]
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Asimina triloba on Wikimedia Commons.


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