Mark Twain and Connecticut's champion pawpaw tree

Pawpaw's (Asimina triloba) are not native to Connecticut, though are perfectly hardy throughout the state. The trees and the fruit are largely unknown in the state. In recent years, many small scale market growers and permaculture have planted pawpaws. For those who want to grow blemish free organic fruit without an intensive spray regimen, pawpaws are promising. As a native fruit, there are no notable pests or diseases to contend with. 

The largest pawpaw tree in Connecticut is located in the lawn between the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe historic houses in Hartford. 

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain hailed from the center of pawpaw country, Hannibal Missouri, along the Mississippi river. During his youth spent on the river, he no doubt also encountered the fruit. 

Twain was an avowed fan of the cherimoya, a tropical relative of our native pawpaw. When Clemens and his family built their grand house in Hartford in the late 19th century, could they also have planted a pawpaw tree?

The horticultural romantic in me would love for this to be true. After doing some archival research however, I must conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that the tree currently on the grounds is dates form the time of the Clemens' residence in Hartford. I did discover a 1952 photograph which show the tree already well established. Its possible that the tree was planted in the 1920s when restoration began of the house and grounds as a historic site. I believe that someone with an keen eye for detail and an appreciation for the way in which plants help to shape a place, its people and food planted this tree almost 100 years ago. To this day, it evokes a little bit of Twains youth spent along the pawpaw rich shores of the research River.