This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Some one takes one of your correspondents to task for spelling "Papaw," Pawpaw. The latter orthography is perfectly correct, the word is very often spelled so; and, moreover, it represents the accepted pronunciation of the name in the Southern and South-western States; The name was applied to the tree by the colonists, and was transferred from the Malay name Papaya, (Sp., Papaya; Fr., Papaye; Eng., Papaw or Pawpaw,) of the tropical Carica papaya - probably, as Dr. Gray remarks, from a fancied resemblance in form or flavor. Our plant does not even belong to the same natural order with the latter, and there is no reason why the spelling of the common name should be made to conform in structure to the Malay word; and there is every reason why it should be made distinct and be spelled as pronounced, Pawpaw. The earlier writers on the vegetable productions of this country spell it Papau, Paupau, Papaw and Pawpaw. The Michiganders have named their town correctly.
The Indian (Algonkin) name of the fruit was Assimin, "Stone-fruit," (from the numerous seeds which it contained,) and hence the French name Assiminier or Aciminier, and the modern genus-name Asimina. It is a pity that in this case as well as in numerous others, where our native plants had well-sounding aboriginal names, such names had not been preserved.