Terminalia ferdinandiana, also called the gubinge, billygoat plum, Kakadu plum or murunga, is a flowering plant in the family Combretaceae, native to Australia, widespread throughout the tropical woodlands from northwestern Australia to eastern Arnhem Land.
It should not be confused with Planchonia careya, with which it shares some common names.
Terminalia ferdinandiana is a slender, small to medium-sized tree growing up to 32 m in height, with creamy-grey, flaky bark and deciduous pale green leaves. The flowers are small, creamy-white, perfumed, and borne along spikes in the leaf axils towards the ends of the branches. Flowering is from September to December. (Southern hemisphere spring/summer.)
The fruit, now commonly known as Kakadu plum or billygoat plum, is used as bush tucker by the Australian Aborigines. The roundish, light green fruits are usually eaten raw, although they can also be made into a jam.
Kakadu plum is more commonly sold as an ingredient for cosmetics but is slowly entering new markets as a nutraceutical in food supplements and fortified beverages. While the fruits have been trialled in plantation and some harvests from these irrigated fields are now supplying market demand, the vitamin C levels tend to fall with the less harsh growing conditions compared to wild stands of trees. Aboriginal communities in Australia's Top End benefit as they wild harvest the fruits to supply the growing demand. Unfortunately, this demand has led to illegal and premature harvesting by commercial operations seeking to exceed the quantities allowed by government licensing.
T. ferdinandiana was used as a traditional medicine for the treatment of numerous ailments. The fruits were eaten by Australian Aborigines on long treks or hunting trips and were considered more valuable as a medicine rather than as a food. The inner bark of the tree was used to treat a variety of skin disorders and infections including wounds, sores and boils. It is also effective in controlling fungal infections such as ringworm, and in the treatment of bacterial infections including its use in treating leprosy. A recent study has reported on the antibacterial activity of T. ferdinandiana.
- Bush Book Volume 2, Chapter 3: Food and Nutrition
- Kakadu plum Fruitipedia by Dr. Chiranjit Parmar. Accessed July 2011
- Bushtucker harvest sparks controversy :: ABC Kimberley WA
- Clarke PA. Aboriginal people and their plants. 2007; Rosenberg publishing Pty Ltd, Kenthurst, NSW, Australia.
- Isaacs J. Bush Food. 1987; Weldons Pty Ltd, Australia.
- Hegarty MP, Hegarty EE. Food Safety of Australian Plant Bushfoods, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 2001; publication number 01/28, ACT, Australia.
- Gorman JT, Griffiths AD, Whitehead PJ. An analysis of the use of plant products for commerce in remote Aboriginal communities of Northern Australia. Econ Bot 2006; 60(4): 362-373.
- Cock, I.E. and Mohanty, S., 2011, Evaluation of the antibacterial activity and toxicity of Terminalia ferdinandia fruit extracts, Pharmacognosy Journal, 3, 72-79.
- Cherikoff, Vic, The Bushfood Handbook, ISBN 0-7316-6904-5.
- Low, Tim, Wild Food Plants of Australia, ISBN 0-207-14383-8.
- Pharm.J. 229: 505 (1982). Reported 2300–3150 mg ascorbic acid per 100g of edible fruit.