The Answers Issue: Are there any indigenous fruits or vegetables from D.C.?

Are there any indigenous fruits or vegetables from D.C.? Any heirloom varieties from here?

There don’t appear to be any fruits or vegetables that exist only between the Potomac River and Western, Eastern, and Southern Avenues. But perhaps it’s time the District claim something regional as our own. I vote for the pawpaw, which is native to the eastern U.S. and, it seems, needs a friend.

Go ahead and mock: The oft-dissed fruit, which looks a bit like a mango and has been labeled the “poor man’s banana,” has been an afterthought for centuries. One guidebook to edibles from the year 1919 gracelessly described the fruit as “a natural custard, too luscious for the relish of most people...a great resource to the savages.”

Clearly, this is a fruit in need of a happy ending. Kathy Bilton, a member of the Botanical Society of Washington, says you can find plenty of pawpaws along the C&O Canal’s tow path in late September. Pawpaws usually grow in trees taller than you can reach, but fall to the ground when ripe. So if you’re faster than the critters, the “great resources to the savages” can be all yours.

Leave a Comment

Note: HTML tags are not allowed in comments.
Comments Shown. Turn Comments Off.
...