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Issue 17

Autumn 2001

Food of the Rainforest

Davidson Plum

Ooo-ray or Sour Plum

Davidsonia pruriens - Family: DAVIDSONIACEAE 

Features:

Outstanding features of this plant include 

Fruit

Relatively large fleshy fruit rounded to oblong, up to 50mm in diameter are dark purple to black when ripe with bright rich red/maroon coloured juicy pulp. The fruit only have a couple of seeds, which are three winged and easily separated from the pulp. On the skin are fine hairs that are easily wiped off with a rag. The pulp is acid/tart and makes excellent wines and jams. Fallen fruit is eaten by a range of animals including Cassowaries.

Fruits ripen throughout the year but peak availability is Spring and early Summer.

The Plant

The plant, a small to medium sized tree up to 12m in height is sometimes multi­trunked. The leaves when mature are dark green up to 50cm long and of a quite distinctive shape. The felted pink/tan new growth is very at­tractive and adds to the demand for plants for their ornamental value in protected sites in larger gardens.

Natural Locations

The Northern form of the Davidson Plum is common to the lowland and highland rainforest areas of Northern Queensland. A

less common variety called Jerseyana is native to rainforest areas of Northern New South Wales and South East Queens­land.

Growing Requirements

The plant grows well in loca­tions protected from strong winds and full sun, specially dur‑

ing its first few years of planting out. Soil that is moderately fer­tile with good organic content and kept moist will encourage steady growth. Once the tree is estab­lished it can tolerate more open conditions. Remnant trees are sometimes seen along roadsides and in pasture paddocks with fringing rainforest.

By Roger Goebel, DPI

Propagation

Seeds extracted from freshly fallen fruit (you have to be quick to beat the fauna) can be planted in seedbeds or pots. It need not he buried but just covered with peat 'floss or light potting mix. Only a small amount of the seed is fertile and even the fertile seed will take weeks to germi­nate. Young plants are very sensitive to drying, hot sun and strong fertilis­ers. Other methods of propagation have not been observed or read about but layering or marcotting could he useful where plants of superior charac­ter are found.

Issues

The botanical name `pruriens' means causing itching or stinging. This relates to the fine hairs on parts of the plant, particu­larly on the skin of the fruit. These fine hairs could cause problems to some people especially if the trees are grown close to living areas. A range of leaf eating insects may at­tack Davidson Plum plants. Growth of young plants will be retarded by their attack so fine netting may have to be used till the plants are es­tablished.

The Name 'Oo-ray' was the name used by the Tully River Aboriginals. Early settlers found the wood to be close grained, hard, tough and durable. It was used for tool handles and mallet heads.

Nutritional (source 1:50 000 Snack Map, Mena Creek)

 %Water - 91.5

Protein - 0.41

fat - 1.7

Energy/Kj/100g - 130.8

The book "North Queensland Native Plants' SGAP Tablelands Branch 1988, has a detailed recipe for a full-flavoured, dry red wine using 2 kg's of fruit to make around 4 ltrs of wine.

This book has hints on jam mak­ing, preserving, tart fillings and drinks. Mungalli Creek Cheese of Millaa Millaa produce a `Davidson Plum farmhouse yo­ghurt', a product which further demonstrates the versatility of this fruit as a flavouring.

Future

Indications of significant varia­tion in fruit quality and quantity should lead to seedling selection and propagation of higher qual­ity fruit. Already this plant is a regular feature of revegetation projects. The plant is an impor­tant food source for native ani­mals so the increased demand should he taken from planting's instead of being taken as current wild harvesting.

Postscript

The Griffith University Project - I have been told that the tissue culture Davidson plants have now been transferred to pots and are doing well. More on this as the project continues.

 

The Ed.

While every care is taken,
I really can't be responsble for the quality of the products nor the legitimacy of the requests - I simply pass them on!
Sammy, Editor

From the net - a request from the Big Apple...

The following was forwarded to the bushfood discussion group by a listee in the UK who re­ceived it as a result of his Fin­ger lime web page:

"I am a purchasing director for a large caterer in the New York City area and my chef is inter­ested in the finger lime. Can we get some? Are they available to be purchased oin a large scale? Please get back to me. Thanks." Jay Schwartz

jrshospitality@email.msn.com The finger lime web page can be found at: www. saalfields.freeserve.co.uk/ AusNatCitrus.htm

Canberra Group to form?

I received the following and pass it on for those who might be interested in a bushfoods group in the Canberra region:

Sammy,

We are looking at becoming a regional group of the Southern Bushfood Association. The email list works great.

I didn't realise SBA (Southern Bushfoods Association) had regional groups, and when Julie-Anne saw my message she let me know and is sending some info soon. I had some response from people around here but need a few more so a small article would be beneficial I'm sure.

Bye for now,

Margie Burk

rattlepod@swelldesign.com.au Phone: 0262 465 283

For Sale

Dorrigo Pepper

(Tasmannia stipitata) seedlings.

50mm tubes

$ 1.00 each

Backhousia citriodora, 3cuttings.

50mm tubes, high oil yield

stock, $1.50 each

Ph/Fax: 02 6688 2042