Asimina obovata

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Asimina obovata
Asim obov.jpg
Photo by Betty Wargo, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Order: Magnoliales
Family: Annonaceae
Genus: Asimina
Species: A. obovata
Binomial name
Asimina obovata
(Willd.) Nash
Asim obov dist.jpg
Natural range of Asimina obovata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Bigflower pawpaw

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Pityothamnus obovatus (Willdenow) Small


A description of Asimina obovata is provided in The Flora of North America.

Asimina obovata is a long-lived perennial.[1] Such as other species in the Genus Asimina, it has a deep taproot and resprouts from a lignotuber after fire or disturbance[2] (Kral 1993). Leaves are alternate and simple with pinnate venation.[3] It can be a shrub or a small tree growing three meters or more.[4]




Asimina obovata is endemic to the well drained sand of sand ridges, coastal dunes, hammocks and pine-turkey oak sand ridges that occur in southeastern to north central Florida.[2] Associated species include Pinus clausa, Quercus gemiata, Quercus myrtifolia, Ceratiola ericoides, Ilex opaca var. arenicola, Garberia heterophylla, and Persea humilus.[5]


Flowers March to June[2] with white flowers and green fruit.[1]

Asimina obovata is the only species in the genus Asimina to have flower buds that terminate the new shoot growth.[2] This species can be identified by a bright red-hairy peduncle and a reddish pubescence on the shoots and lower leaf surface.[2] The stamens are pale green to beige at anthesis.[6]

Seed bank and germination

Seedlings have been found in the shade of parent plants due to the importance of shade and seed burial to prevent seed desiccation after ripening.[5]

Fire ecology

In the year following a fire, A. obovata resprouts with more stems than were present pre-fire, however these stems are smaller and less woody with a higher chance of herbivory. The amount of flowers blooming is the greatest in the second flowering season post-fire with flower numbers decreasing as the fire interval becomes longer.[6]

The species responds to a disturbance such as fire or cutting vegetatively, sending up several leafy shoots which are forming flower buds that do not open until the following growing season.[2]


Pollination occurs entomophily [7] with beetles such as Typocerus zebra, Trichotinus rufobruneus, T. lunulatus and Euphoria sepulchralis responsible for pollination.[8] The following Hymenoptera families and species were observed visiting flowers of Asimina obovata at Archbold Biological Station:[9]

Apidae: Apis mellifera

Vespidae: Polistes dorsalis hunteri

Use by animals

In order to protect itself from herbivory, A. obovata contains a toxin called annonaceous acetogenins which inhibits mitochondrial respiration in preditors.[7]

Gopher tortoises have been observed to eat the ripe fruit and spit out the seeds.[8]

Conservation and management

Global conservation status: G3-Vulnerable.[10] State status: S3-Vulnerable.[10]

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 [Florida Native Plant Society. Accessed: November 24, 2015]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Kral, Robert. 1960. A Revision of Asimina and Deeringothamnus (Annonaceae). Brittonia 12:233-278.
  3. [Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Accessed: November 23, 2015.]
  4. [[1]]Accessed: November 24, 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Crummer, Kathryn. Physiological Leaf Traits of Scrub Pawpaw, Asimina obovata (Willd.)Nash (Annonaceae). University of Florida, 2003.
  6. 6.0 6.1 [[2]] Archbold Biological Station. Accessed: November 24, 2015
  7. 7.0 7.1 [Encyclopedia of Life]Accessed November 24, 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1 Norman, Elaine M. and David Clayton. Reproductive Biology of Two Florida Pawpaws: Asimina obovata and A. pygmaea (Annonaceae). 1986. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 113: 16-22.
  9. Deyrup, M.A. 2015. Database of observations of Hymenoptera visitations to flowers of plants on Archbold Biological Station, Florida, USA.
  10. 10.0 10.1 [[3]] Nature Serve Explorer. Accessed November 24, 2015.]]