JEFFERSON CITY, MO, SEPT. 30, 2020 – Robert Wolkowitz is the winner for his 13.7 ounce submission in the Picking up Pawpaws Contest held by Bennett Spring State Park nature center. Wolkowitz found his prize pawpaw in St. Louis County and was awarded a certificate and prize including the Foraging for Wild Edible Foods, Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms pocket guides.
Missouri’s state fruit tree, the pawpaw grows in river valleys with deep, rich, moist soil. It has a sweet pulp that can be eaten raw and tastes like a cross between a banana and a mango.
On the last day of the contest, nature center visitors enjoyed pawpaw bread made by Dan and Bobbi Slais of Lebanon. Enjoying other wild edibles with fresh-caught trout is an enjoyable part of camping outdoors.
The contest ran Sept. 16 through Sept. 26. Pawpaws can grow up to 6 inches long. Lewis and Clark were known to eat them on their expedition in 1806.
For more information on edible wild plants, visit the Bennett Spring nature center. Bennett Spring State Park is located at 26250 Highway 64A in Lebanon.
For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.