Pawpaw season in the James River Park

Pawpaw on the James River Trail LoopIt’s pawpaw season. If you have ever been on the James River Trail Loop this time of year and smelled a ripe banana smell and wondered what it was….pawpaw. Likely brown and smushed into the trail floor. Bikers run over them and get them in their tires, hikers get them all into their shoes. However, NBC12 weatherman Andrew Freiden said you can eat them. Just don’t eat the seeds — they are poisonous.

You don’t have to head to the grocery store for a taste of the tropics. It turns out a largely unknown fruit thrives in Richmond — and you can get it for free…if you can find it.

Every year, from mid-August to early October, this wild food enthusiast heads to the James River Park — sometimes with his kids — in search for the elusive pawpaw. A free meal.

Yet they are one of the only two fruit trees native to Virginia (American persimmon is another). They are picky as to where they will grow. Pawpaws only grow in fertile soil near rivers — on distinctive medium size trees.

Read more in Freiden’s story at and get more details on pawpaws at Richmond on the James. NOTE: Andy Thompson added a column on “papaws.” This brings up a good point, there seems to be several spellings: pawpaw, paw paw, papaw, paw-paw, etc. He goes into some of the naming and origins of the pawpaw.


One response to “Pawpaw season in the James River Park

  1. The seeds will cause gastric distress but are not truly “poisonous” from what I understand.

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