This weekend I got to play tree doctor as I performed an IVF procedure in our paw paw patch. Fortunately, the procedure was inexpensive, requiring only a plastic bag and a paint brush, and a knowledge of paw paw anatomy. Paw paws can be tricky to fertilize because they are too stinky for bees, giving off a carrion smell that attracts flies. The flies are supposed to pollinate them, but haven’t been doing a great job. Since our trees haven’t borne any fruit yet, I decided to step in.
After a few weeks, the female flowers morph into males,
becoming “hairy” with a coat of pollen.
The procedure was pretty straightforward: I would take some of the flaky pollen from the male flower of one tree and transplant it to the stigma of the female flower of another tree. Fortunately, I had a few male and female flowers on each tree.
Pretty soon I identified my first male donor. He was ready to go and didn’t need any priming.