The green plum, Buchanania obovata, is a small fruit found on trees in arid parts of the Northern Territory. It has been eaten for more than 53,000 years by many Aboriginal communities. Now scientists are researching its nutritional potential.
University of Queensland scientists learned about the fruit from locals at Yirrkala, a small community 1,000 kilometres east of Darwin, while studying the better-known Kakadu plum. Yasmina Sultanbawa is the director of the Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods at the university. [The locals] said the green plum comes after the Kakadu plum harvests," Dr Sultanbawa said. "They always said that it was delicious and the old people ate it and they gave it to their children. So we were very curious, and we had the opportunity to do some samples."
Dr Sultanbawa and her team have been working with the Aboriginal-owned Gulkula nursery to study the nutritional values of the native food, and its commercial opportunities. A nutritional analysis in a Brisbane lab found out just how special the green plum is.
"There's a fair amount of protein; [it's] very high in dietary fibre; the minerals — potassium, phosphorus, magnesium — are very high," Dr Sultanbawa said. "What is really interesting is that the folate in the fruit is one of the highest commercially available. Even when you compare it to commercially available fruits, green plums would stand out [from] them, and among the native foods, it's the highest."