”Charlotte, I wondered if you knew the name of this bush. It might grow into a tree, but it is a large bush in front of my river cabin.” - Elaine
What Is This Bush
Hi Elaine, that is a native Missouri tree, the Paw Paw. Those dark chocolate flowers are a dead giveaway fro the identification and bloom March through May. The paw paw fruits are edible so if you see fruit, enjoy, just don’t eat the seeds.
The Paw Paw trees remind me of a Tree of Life for Missouri. Paw Paws grow well in Missouri and are seeing a comeback among restaurant chefs. They can be grown in deep pots but are best in the ground since they can grow very tall.
According to Missouri Botanical Garden, Asimina triloba, commonly called pawpaw, is a Missouri native small understory tree or large shrub which typically grows 15-20' tall (sometimes to 30') and occurs in low bottom woods, wooded slopes, ravines and along streams.
Pawpaw often spreads by root suckers to form colonies or thickets. Large, slightly drooping, elliptical, medium green leaves (6-12" long) retain green color well into fall before turning to a bright (but sometimes undistinguished) yellow. Cup-shaped, purple flowers (3 green sepals and 6 purple petals in two tiers) appear in spring, and give way to edible, oblong, yellowish green fruits which mature in early autumn to a dark brown. Flavor and fleshy consistency of the sweet-flavored fruits resembles bananas. Fruits are frequently eaten raw or used in ice creams or pies, although they can produce nausea in some people.
Wildlife (e.g., raccoons, squirrels and opossums) eagerly seek out the fruits and often beat humans to the harvest. Early Americans made a yellow dye from the pulp of the ripened fruit.
Genus name comes from the Latinized version of the French form of the Indian name for this North American genus.
I may try to grow some on my hillside as a bush once I find a wet spot since they like more moist areas.