Joe Wheeler State Park

Pawpaw Patch Hike

Event Dates:
September 16, 2021, 10:00 am
September 16, 2021, 11:30 am
Pawpaw Patch Hike

National Pawpaw Day, held every third Thursday in September, celebrates the tropical-looking fruit native to North America which tastes like a cross between a mango and a banana. With over 60 varieties and a unique, creamy texture, it’s a wonder that more people don’t know about the pawpaw! Also known as the Kentucky Banana and Hillbilly mango, the pawpaw grows all across the South and is the largest fruit native to the United States. Although we don’t see it on store shelves much today, the pawpaw was an important part of traditional Native American diets and is used for various purposes today.


Join Park Naturalist Sam Woodroof on an interpretive nature hike to Joe Wheeler's Pawpaw Patch

When: September 16th @10:00 am

Where: The Wheeler River Trail (meet at the far end of the Lodge parking lot)

What to Bring: Hiking shoes, proper clothing, water bottle

For more information about the event, email:



1540: The Spanish discovered pawpaws during Hernando de Soto's Mississippi expedition, when an expedition member noticed Indigenous people cultivating it.

Fall of 1810: During a particularly lean time on their expedition to map the American West, Lewis and Clark subsisted on pawpaws when they ran out of almost everything else.

1929 - 1939: During the Great Depression, when other fruit became scarce and expensive, the pawpaw stood in for more tropical imports like bananas.

September 19, 2019: First National Pawpaw Day. Founded by Kentucky State University, National Pawpaw Day celebrates and raises awareness of this tasty and unique fruit and promotes research and cultivation.



  1. Pawpaw Pudding

    Use your favorite banana pudding recipe and swap out the bananas with pawpaws. They'll give the pudding a surprising and mellow flavor!

  2. Pawpaw Bread

    Mixed with copious amounts of sugar and flour, the pawpaw creates an excellent addition to cakes and quick breads.

  3. Pawpaw Beer

    Fruit-flavored beer is gaining in popularity, and the pawpaw lends its unique flavor perfectly to craft brews.

  4. Pawpaw Sorbet

    With its creamy texture, the pawpaw makes a delicious substitute in any mango sorbet recipe.

  5. Pawpaw Jam

    The sweetness of pawpaws make them an excellent candidate for long-simmering homemade jams and preserves.