Forbidden Fruit

It is dangerous to let a lady near a fruit tree. At least that is why I presume the father of the Pawpaw in my yard stopped me from reaching out to touch these hidden gems when I saw them for the first time four years ago.  He swatted my hand away. Image

I’ve been going out to look on this Pawpaw because I want to find the caterpillar of the Zebra Swallowtail. You couldn’t spit without hitting a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly where I worked on the Eastern Shore (to use the local vernacular). Their picky caterpillars will only eat Pawpaw leaves. And you thought gluten free was demanding! But darned if I didn’t turn over every chewed up Pawpaw leaf I passed while leading around small children (who were equally pleased to turn things over and take a look) and fail to find anything but little black dots. And that’s not what GoogleImage shows the eggs looking like, don’t worry, I checked. zebra swallowtail butterfly

There aren’t any Zebra Swallowtails around here that I’ve seen, but hope just keeps on springing. I was circling the tree and flipping over leaves with no success, and I decided to save time by squatting on the ground and looking up from below. That is when I spotted them. Cool and green the fruit lay silently. They were like a babies in a womb, witnessed unsuspected in a tree keeping her lips sealed. I have fetuses on the brain today obviously #Royalbaby but that is exactly what it was like. I felt like Thomas Stone discovering that he had not been alone with his cadaver.   (read it). And although the grumpy old man was not there to whack my hand, I remembered His warning and didn’t touch them. I mean they’re not ripe yet anyway.

But I am not the only one who eats Pawpaws! If it wasn’t the Zebras who was it? Image

About Pawpaws: it is true that the day you eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, until you close them out of sheer juicy bliss.

Also about Pawpaws: they are native trees, and their custard apple genus Asimina is represented heavily in the tropics, but only this member lives here. It is a really common understory tree in the wild in Maryland especially near water. You can eat the wild fruit if another critter doesn’t beat you to it but it might not taste as good as this cultivated variety that I am lucky to have in my lawn.    Check them out, no need to spray this guy who has been around the neighborhood long enough to know who its friends are and fend for itself #organic. Did you know that honeybees are not native? This locavore is picky and requires a special fly to carry out its pollination. For this reason scratching and sniffing is said to reveal a garbage-like odor. I haven’t found them to be particularly smelly. Maybe that is why the grumpy old man helps his out by putting something dead near the trees to attract the flies to the brown-purple flowers that dangle from the branches in April. See their sickly selves here:

Spot the trees in the wild by their big leaves (see above) and that certain angle to their dangle. Image

Evidently those bros got the job done. I’ll be eating you in early fall Pawpaws.



Filed under Plants

6 responses to “Forbidden Fruit

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