Papaw (Fr. papayer), a name applied to two very different trees and their fruits, the one purely tropical, the other North American, and especially belonging to the middle states. The common papaw of this country is asimina triloba, of the custard-apple family or ano-nacece, a family of trees and shrubs having alternate leaves, without stipules; flower of a calyx with three sepals, and six petals in two rows; stamens numerous, with short filaments and several pistils, separate or coherent, ripening into a fleshy or pulpy fruit. The family, except one genus, is tropical; the soursop, cherimoyer, and other favorite fruits of warm countries belong to it. (See Custard Apple.) Our genus asimina derives its name from the fact that the papaw was called asiminier by the French colonists; in the older botanical works it is variously called anona, porcelia, orchidocarpum, and uvaria; there are four species of asimina, all except the papaw (A. triloba) being low shrubs, a form in which this is frequently found, but in favorable localities in the southwestern states it is a tree 30 ft. high, with a diameter of 6 in. or more; the presence of large papaw trees is regarded as indicative of a soil of great fertility.

The trunk has a gray smooth bark, and the young shoots are covered with a rusty down, but soon become smooth; the thin obovate-lanceolate leaves are 6 to 9 in. long with short petioles; the flowers, which appear before or with the leaves, are an inch and a half across, the outer petals three or four times as long as the calyx, dull purple and veiny when fully developed, but greenish or yellowish at first; the pistils few, ripening from one to four large pulpy fruits, which contain numerous horizontal seeds. The wood is soft, spongy, and of no value; but the inner bark, which is very tough, is a strong tying material. The fruit, ripening usually in September, is 3 or 4 in. long and about a third as thick, uneven as if slightly swollen in places, its rather tender skin yellow when quite ripe; within are large flat seeds, arranged in two rows of four to nine in each; these at maturity are invested by a fleshy arillus, and all imbedded in the flesh of the fruit, which when completely ripened is of a soft, custard-like consistency and very sweet; the albumen of the seeds is divided into plates by the projection into .its substance of the inner seed coat, producing the kind of albumen called ruminated, of which the nutmeg is a familiar example.

The fruit is considered too sweet and mawkish by many, while some prefer it to the banana. Some trees produce in the wild state fruit of superior size and excellence, and doubtless it could be greatly improved by selection and cultivation. The resemblance in the taste of the fruit to that of the tropical papaw is probably the reason for its bearing the name. In some localities the fruit has been fermented and distilled to produce a spirituous liquor. The tree is hardy near Boston, Mass., and in central Michigan, and is sufficiently ornamental to have a place in a large collection. The remaining species are not found north of North Carolina, and extend southward to Florida. The small-flowered papaw (A. parmflora) is 2 to 5 ft. high, with greenish purple flowers half an inch across, and a fruit the size of a plum. The large-flowered papaw (A. grandiflora) is only 2 or 3 ft. high, with leaves 3 in. long, and the flowers, about 4 in. across, yellowish white. In the preceding species, the flowers appear in the axils of the leaves of the previous year, or rather just above the scars left by them, but in the dwarf papaw (A. pygmcea) they are produced in the axils of the present leaves; this grows in pine barrens to the height of 3 ft., but often flowers when less than 1 ft. high; its leaves are variable in size, and in the far south nearly evergreen; the flowers are pale yellow, the inner petals purplish within. - The tropical papaw is Carica papaya.

The genus Carica (so named because thought erroneously to be a native of Caria) was formerly placed in a small family, the papayacem; but this, with several other small orders, has been by Hooker and Bentham merged in passifloracece. (See Passion Flower.) This genus consists of about 20 trees and shrubs, all natives of tropical America. This papaw is seldom over 20 ft. high, is a foot in diameter at the base, and gradually tapering upward without branching, bearing at the summit a crown of long-petioled leaves, the limb to which is often 2 ft. across, deeply cut into seven irregularly gashed lobes, which gives the tree much the aspect of a palm. The flowers, which are dioecious, are in long racemes, the males with funnel-shaped corollas, and the females with five distinct petals; the fruit is a large berry, about 10 in. long and half as broad, externally ribbed, and of a dull orange color; it has a thick fleshy rind, and numerous small, black, wrinkled seeds, arranged in five longitudinal lines along the central cavity; it is sometimes eaten raw with pepper and sugar, but is more generally cooked with sugar and lemon juice; the unripe fruit is boiled and eaten as a vegetable, and is also pickled.

The juice of the ripe fruit is said to be used as a cosmetic to remove freckles, and that of the green fruit is a remarkably efficient vermifuge; the leaves are used in the French West Indies as a substitute for soap for washing linen. The tree abounds in a milky, bitter juice, which is remarkable as containing fibrine, a principle otherwise found only in the animal kingdom; Vauquelin compares the juice to blood deprived of its coloring material. Endlicher says that a few drops of this juice mixed with water will in a few moments render recently killed or old and tough meat tender, and that the same effect is produced by wrapping a piece of meat in a leaf of the tree and keeping it thus over night. It is also said that if old swine or poultry be fed upon the leaves of the tree, their flesh will be tender when killed. The root has the odor of decaying radishes. The tree is found in the extreme southern part of Florida, probably introduced from the West Indies, and it is cultivated in various tropical countries.

Some other species are mentioned under Carioa.

Papaw (Asimina triloba).

Papaw (Asimina triloba).

Papaw, Fruit.

Papaw, Fruit.

Carica papaya.

Carica papaya.