Smooth Davidson Plum

The Smooth Davidson plum (Davidsonia johnsonii) is an endangered variety of fruit native to eastern Australia. The Smooth Davidson plum tree grows up to 18 meters tall and reproduces through root suckers. The tree has smooth, 12-30 cm long leaves and small pinkish-red flowers. Flowering occurs from October to November, and fruit ripens between January and April. The fruit is blue-black in color with a soft, juicy pulp with a sour, acidic flavor and some astringency. The fruits contain two seeds, which are usually infertile, empty husks. Fruiting yields of up to 300kg have been recorded from some older trees. All three species of the Davidson plum were eaten raw by the Aborigines, Australia’s indigenous people, and the trunks were used to make harpoons for catching turtles and hunting dugong (a local marine mammal). Smooth Davidson plums have been a staple of the indigenous Aboriginal peoples’ diet for tens of thousands of years. The fruit was widely documented in literature from the late 1800s, and was promoted as an ornamental plant in the early 1900s. Smooth Davidson plums can be found in central eastern Australia, from the Currumbin Valley in southeastern Queensland to the Richmond River in northeastern New South Wales. Today, there is only one commercial producer of Smooth Davidson plums, but the fruit is not grown on a large enough scale to be commonly found in markets. Growing sites for the plum trees face competition from livestock grazing, the presence of which can cause direct damage and soil compactation, in addition to Camphor Laurel and smothering Lanatana (an introduced weed species). The fruits can also be consumed by rodents or succumb to fruit fly infestation. Habitat destruction has isolated many Davidson plum-growing sites that may have once been part of a continuous habitat, creating the limited distribution seen today.

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