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Kakadu plum (Callie Jones)

Could billy goat plums be the next big thing to arrive on the health food shelf? Also called kakadu plums, they are the fruit of a medium sized tree (Terminalia ferdinandiana) that grows throughout the tropical woodlands of Australia’s Northern Territory. They have been used as bush tucker by the Aboriginal people for centuries.

The fruits are harvested and usually eaten raw or cooked in jams and chutneys. A juice has recently been marketed in Australia and New Zealand. It will be coming to Europe, where marketing sensibilities will see it sold as kakadu plum juice rather than billy goat plum juice.

Billy goat plums are notable for their vitamin C content which is said to be more than 5 per cent of the fruit by weight or 50 times the concentration found in oranges. They are probably the world’s richest natural fruit source of this vitamin. The plums also contain high levels of folates and antioxidants.

It has been reported that the vitamin C content of trees grown in plantations is much less than that in the wild trees. Researchers believe the harsher growing conditions affecting the native tree alters the production of the vitamin.

In the past the plant has been used in bush medicine to treat leprosy. A preparation made from the inner bark was used to treat ringworm, boils and backache. A gum exuding from the bark is edible and billy goat plums are also an ingredient of cosmetics.

An essence of the fruit is marketed in Australia and is said to bring about a healthy enjoyment of sexual activity.

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