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The wild fruits are ripening early this year. These aren't quite ready yet, they need another week. But the warm spring has really helped them along. The nearly ripe Raspberries are deliciously tart and refreshing. How are the natives doing in your neck of the woods?
(Warning do not eat unripe Mayapples, I have never tried them green, so I have no personal experience, but all sources I've read say the unripe fruit is contains toxins.)
Mayapples taste rather like citrus-y grapes to me, but most who eat them have their own flavor description. It is a bit unique. I've seen comments that say the unripe fruit tastes like soap, but as unripe fruit is reported to contain toxins, I've never tasted it to verify.
I've also seen comments that, in quantity, Mayapple fruits will give you a "green apple stomach-ache" or act like a laxative. I haven't experienced either symptom, but I rarely find more than two or three ripe at one time so "eating in quantity" hasn't been an option. I suspect some of these symptoms are from eating the seeds, which are reported to contain some of the toxins present in the rest of the plant. I don't eat the rind or the seeds.
Here in my area the Mayapples ripen to a light yellow, occasionally with a brown tip. When ripe they pull away from the dying leaves readily, often falling off when disturbed. However there are many photos of dark yellow and even reddish fruits, so I suspect there is quite a bit of variability in the species.
This is a fruit where "checking with a local expert" and "proceed with caution" is good advice. People differ in their ability to tolerate different foodstuffs.
I just found young unripe pawpaw fruit on a local patch of pawpaw trees. I've been missing the right time to catch them for two years now. I went too late and couldn't be sure if it had fruited or not.
I ate lots of those wild raspberries, or some kind of berries, as a kid.
I planted a few Paw Paws this year, Sallyg. They are a bit challenging to start. Love the fruit, but it doesn't keep well so it's very seasonal. Wild trees are rare around here, I've only seen a very few.
The Mayapples are just about done around here, I haven't seen any fruit in the past week. The wild strawberry and raspberry season is coming to an end also.
Steve, you may know, Univ of Kentucky has a lot of pawpaw resources.
Of three pawpaw patches I now know, one is right in the river bottom, and another is covering a slope just alongside the riverbottom, with lots of ferns, I think that slope faces north. Last one is in a small stream valley. So those hint to me, needs ample water or steady water. Good luck! Very nutritious and people used to forage them a lot they say.
Sally, I've tried to contact the UK researchers about Paw Paws but have never received a reply. It's possible the contact info is outdated. I'd like to start some local native trees. I'm only a couple of miles from the KY border.
I agree they like water and a little shade, at least when they are young. They seem to be relatively pest free, although something will chew on the leaves occasionally.
Before bulldozers began preparations for the gigantic Boeing plant here in Charleston, our Native Plant Society rescued a number of plants including some Mayapples. They were given to me to pot up...which I did, but now they've disappeared! I kept them in shade, and Mother Nature kept them pretty damp. Is it typical for them to just go dormant or are they really really gone?