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Pawpaw proud: Local land trust bringing fruit back to Iowa

April 16, 2021

IOWA CITY – Appalachian banana, custard apple, banango; The pawpaw has many names, but whatever you call it, Bur Oak Land Trust is bringing it back to eastern Iowa.

“Pawpaws used to be common in our state and now hardly anyone knows about them,” said Executive Director Jason Taylor.

To grow several pawpaw patches, Bur Oak is asking for fosters to raise hundreds of pawpaw seedlings to be planted on the Land Trust’s protected properties next spring. The goal is not only to bring back the pawpaw – labeled a species of concern – but to provide the sole food source for the threatened zebra swallowtail butterfly.

“When you remove a species, there could be larger impacts,” said Taylor, “We just don’t know.”

The pawpaw is the largest edible fruit indigenous to North America and has grown in popularity in some parts of the country over the last few years. Through the Foster a Pawpaw project, participants can register to care for pawpaw seedlings from May 1 until early October when Land Trust staff will collect the plants for winter. Next spring, participants will get to help plant their trees on several Bur Oak properties, creating pawpaw patches. The cost is $25 for a crate of nine potted pawpaw seeds.

“We’re creating a fun opportunity for our community to get involved in a serious conservation project,” said Meredith Roemerman, Communications and Program Director at Bur Oak. “We want folks to know that they can make a big difference in the local environment through projects like this and even in their own backyards.”

For more information, visit https://buroaklandtrust.salsalabs.org/fosterapawpaw.

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Meredith Roemerman

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