Bush Tucker Articles

Kakadu Plum

Terminalia ferdinandiana

by Jan Sked

This is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree with creamy-grey, flaky bark. It belongs to the family Combretaceae and is widespread throughout the tropical woodlands of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. It is also called Billygoat Plum by some people.

Leaves are light green, very large and oval-shaped, up to 25cm long and 15cm wide, and are spirally arranged and crowded towards the ends of the branches It is deciduous from July to August.

Flowers are small, creamy-white, perfumed, and borne along spikes in the leaf axils towards the ends of the branches from September to December. They are followed by yellow-green, almond-sized fruits with a short beak at the tip, which ripen from March onwards. These fruits consist of a hard, woody seed covered by a layer of flesh. This flesh is edible and very high in vitamin C. Aborigines ate the flesh raw. However, it has a drying-out effect on the mouth, which is not very pleasant.

Kakadu Plums are better suited to cooking and I have made a delightful jam from them. It goes a lovely golden colour and tastes of honey. One of the best jams I have made. When making the jam, I found the stones adhered tenaciously to the flesh and were very difficult to separate. This means you have to work fairly hard to use them in cooking. After the flesh is cooked it becomes quite gelatinous.

I have also tried pickling them like olives, as they look rather like an olive. However, I found they were pretty repulsive done in this way; so would not recommend it.

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