PAPAW

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PAPAW. The plant so named, with us, is a shrub, or rarely a small tree, inhabiting all parts of the U. States south of the fortieth parallel of latitude, and even some degrees farther north, on the western side of the Alleghanies. It is rare, however, in the lower parts of the South ern States, and is most abundant in the basin of the Ohio, where it sometimes forms thickets occupying exclusively several acres. Its presence is indicative of extreme fertility in the soil; and, in a favorable situation, it sometimes attains the height of thirty feet, with a diameter, at base, of six or eight inches. The papaw has received from botanists the name of asimina triloba, and belongs to the anonacecB, a family of plants almost exclusively tropical. The leaves are five or six inches long, elongated, and wedgeshaped; the flowers are large, pendent, and dark purplish brown ; the fruit is about three inches long, thick, fleshy, and contains several large triangular stones ; when ripe, it is of a yellowish color, and the pulp is soft and edible, but it is insipid to the taste, and is not much esteemed. The wood is extremely soft, spongy, and is applied to no use in the arts. The cellular intf^ument of the bark, especially of the roots, exhales a nauseous odor. Three other species of asimina inhabit the more southern parts of the IJ. States, arid a fourth is found in Mexico. These fogether with the common PAPAW, constitute a genus exclusively North American. The true papaw (carica papaya) is a widely different plant, and a native of the East Indies. It has very much of the habit of a palm, and attains the height of about twenty feet, having a thick, simple stem, herbaceous in its consistence, and naked till within about two feet of the top, and marked with the cicatrices of the fallen leaves, throughout the greater part of its length. The leaves have long footstalks, are very large, and deeply divided into seven, nine, or eleven lobes, which are sinuate and incised. The male flowers are pure white, agreeably scented, and are disposed in loose clusters upon long peduncles; the female flowers are very numerous, large and bellshaped, composed of six yellow petals, and are supported on short simple peduncles. The fruit is oval, furrowed, about as large as a small melon, full of a sweetish pulp, and contains oblong, wrrinkled and brownor blackish seeds. It is eaten both in a crude state and prepared in various manners, and has an aromatic, sweetish and tolerably agreeable flavor; but, when cultivated in our greenhouses, the fruit is entirely worthless. This plant is remarkable for the rapidity of its growth, rising, to the height of six feet in about six months; it flowers and bears fruit throughout the year. Four other species of carica inhabit the intertropical parts of America, and, according to Bartram, one is found in East Florida, but it has not been seen there by later travellers.