In April, when spring is everywhere, the pawpaws blossom and are suddenly important in a woods where as ye1 the Leaves have not appeared on anything but the shadbushes and buckeyes. The ground is carpeted with sweet william phlox and anemones, with spring beauties and the purple of the Lowland violets; now folk come here to hunt for the succulent spring mushrooms, the spongy brown morels. In the thin April sunshine, the fuzzy black, round buds of the pawpaw trees expand, turn bronzy green and show parts arranged in threes around a tight, hard, round center. Then the Bower changes still more until one day the April sun-Light shines through silky, translucent, six-parted, purple-red flowers which hang on slender brown twigs. The globular centers of golderi-green stamens are open to the bees, and the flowers emit a rich, fruity, almost tropica] odor. On the twig-tips, the pale green leaves, folded neatly down their centers, slowly unfold, so that by the time the flowers have shriveled, the Leaves are well on their way to covering the trees.
Asimina triloba ( L. ) Dunal.
April Bottomland woods.
When it is autumn in the Illinois country, the pawpaw fruits are ripe. In the bottomland forests along the Mississippi, the [Illinois, and the Sangamon, and the Kankakee, along the Wabash and the Big Muddy and the Cache, the pawpaw fruits are ripe.
It was in these same forests that the Indians knew the richly flavored, custard-filled, ripe pawpaws. They were called rassimina by the Illiniwek, to whom this was an important and much sought fruit. Assiminier, the French called them, from which Asimina. the present botanical name, much later was derived. Pawpaws are edible either baked or raw.