Monday, September 08, 2014

Name that Fruit: Sort of pear shaped, but grows along the trail

Yesterday, I'm hiking along the Potomac Heritage Trail when I came across this odd looking fruit:

And it wasn't an isolated case, all along the trail I noticed these fruits:

That looks like something you'd buy at the grocery store, no? Alas, all my on-trail Googling failed me; I couldn't get a positive ID.

Once home I did a Google Image search for Green Fruit Growing in Pairs and what do you know, an image popped up that matched my specimen:

Apparently, I had found a PawPaw fruit. And with further Googling, I learned that it's no surprise that I found them where I did. According to this NPR Story they are known to grow along the Potomac River:

Recently, I heard about a secret snack. Kayakers who paddle the waters near Washington, D.C., told me about a mango-like fruit that grows along the banks of the Potomac — a speckled and homely skin that hides a tasty treat.

A tropical-like fruit here, really? Yep. It's the only temperate member of a tropical family of trees. You can't buy the pawpaw in stores, so for years, the only way to eat them was straight from the tree.

So, what looked like a tasty fruit was in fact a tasty fruit. And not just any fruit, but the largest edible fruit that is Native to the US. And to nosh on one is to enjoy the same treat that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did. Historic, yum!

I've been hiking the PHT since at least 2009 and I'd never seen any evidence of these guys. I suppose that speaks to both my ignorance as well as the joy of hiking. Even if you've covered the same ground multiple times, there's still new discoveries waiting to be made.

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