Terminalia ferdinandiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Terminalia ferdinandiana
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Combretaceae
Genus: Terminalia
T. ferdinandiana
Binomial name
Terminalia ferdinandiana
  • Terminalia edulis F.Muell.
  • Terminalia latipes subsp. psilocarpa Pedley

Terminalia ferdinandiana, most commonly known as the Kakadu plum and also called the gubinge, billygoat plum, green plum, salty plum, murunga, mador and other names, is a flowering plant in the family Combretaceae, native to Australia, widespread throughout the tropical woodlands from north-western Australia to eastern Arnhem Land. Used as a traditional bush food and bush medicine for centuries, the fruit has especially high levels of vitamin C.


Terminalia ferdinandiana is a slender, small to medium-sized tree growing up to 14 m (46 ft) in height,[4][5][6] with creamy-grey, flaky bark and deciduous pale green leaves. The flowers are small, creamy-white, perfumed,[5] and borne along spikes in the leaf axils towards the ends of the branches.[citation needed] Flowering is from September to December or February (Southern hemisphere spring/summer).[4] The leaf blades are strongly discolorous with a broadly elliptic to broadly ovate, occasionally obovate shape and are 11 to 33 centimetres (4.3 to 13.0 in) in length with a width of 8.5 to 23 centimetres (3.3 to 9.1 in) and have a rounded apex. The inflorescences are 16 to 19 centimetres (6.3 to 7.5 in) long and are glabrous throughout.[citation needed]

The fruit is yellow-green, about 2 cm (0.79 in) long and 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter, almond-sized with a short beak at the tip, and contain one large seed. They ripen from March onwards,[citation needed] with the ripe fruits being very pale, sometimes pinkish.[4]

The species epithet "ferdinandiana" was created by A.W. Exell in honour of the first European botanist to collect and describe Kakadu plum, Ferdinand Mueller, who had originally given the species the nomen illegitimum (illegitimate name), Terminalia edulis.[7]

Range and habitat[edit]

The tree is widespread throughout the tropical woodlands from northwestern Australia to eastern Arnhem Land.[8] It is found along the coast in the Kimberley region of Western Australia as far west as Broome extending east into the Northern Territory where it is found mostly in the western portion of the top end from the Western Australian border to Arnhem Land but is found as far east as Limmen National Park.[4][9]

It grows in a variety of habitat including sandplains, floodplains, creek beds, ridges, among vine thickets and on the edges of areas of mangroves. It grows in sandy, peaty or clay soils around sandstone or ironstone,[4] and is often found as part of eucalypt communities.[9]


The Kakadu plum provides food for important small mammals such as possums, rock rats, tree rats, and bandicoots. Since demand has increased for the fruit for human consumption, careful management is necessary to ensure its sustainability.[10][11]


Traditional uses[edit]

The fruit has been used as bush tucker or traditional medicine by Aboriginal Australian people over centuries.[12][13][14][15][16]

The tree is particularly valued as a medicine by the Aboriginal peoples of the region, who use the inside of the bark for treating various skin ailments and infections. Fungal infections such as ringworm and bacterial infections (including leprosy) are other targets of treatment.[5]

Nutritional value[edit]

The Kakadu plum has a high concentration of vitamin C in its fruit: recorded concentrations of 2300–3150 mg/100 g wet weight[8] and occasionally as high as 5300 mg/100 g,[17] compared with 50 mg/100 g for oranges, making it among the highest known of any natural source.[5][11] It also contains a high oxalic acid content that may have toxicity when consumed.[16]

Taste and modern uses[edit]

Kakadu plums taste "somewhat bland, but with a definite sour and astringent finish",[10] sometimes salty.[5] Its taste makes it suitable for making into jam, sauces and relishes.[10]

Based on studies done by University of Queensland Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences researchers over a decade,[18] the fruit has been used as a preservative to maintain the freshness of prawns[19] and frozen foods.[18][20]

Because of its potential for varied uses as a food, cosmetic ingredient or preservative, there has been a need to manage its growth in the wild, and in addition, efforts have been made to involve Indigenous groups in the growing industry.[10] The Northern Territory Government has created a five-year (2019–2023) management plan "to ensure wild populations of this native plant and its habitat are adequately maintained across the Northern Territory well into the future".[11]

As of 2021, 50 kg (110 lb) powder, created by a processing plant in Queensland, sells for A$500 per kilogram wholesale, and 50 kg of fruit is needed to create a single kilogram of the powder.[21]

In Aboriginal languages[edit]

Northern Territory[edit]

In Kundjeyhmi, the language of Kakadu National Park where the English name "kakadu plum" originates, the fruit and tree are called anmarlak. In the closely related Kunwinjku language of West Arnhem Land, the word is manmorlak, or mandjiribidj in the Kuninjku dialect.[22] In Yolŋu it is called ŋäṉ'ka-bakarra.[23] The name murunga comes from an eastern Arnhem language.[24]

Western Australia[edit]

In the languages of the Kimberley, Western Australia, the tree is known as gubinge (from the Bardi language[24]) mardorr, yuminyarri and jambalbeng.[21]


  1. ^ Turner, S. (2021). "Terminalia ferdinandiana". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2021: e.T173844325A173844510. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-3.RLTS.T173844325A173844510.en. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  2. ^ "Terminalia ferdinandiana Exell". Plants of the World Online. The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. n.d. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  3. ^ "Terminalia ferdinandiana Exell". Catalogue of Life. Species 2000. n.d. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Terminalia ferdinandiana". FloraBase. Western Australian Government Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Terminalia ferdinandiana (Gubinge)". Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  6. ^ Ken Fern (2014). "Terminalia ferdinandiana". Useful Tropical Plants Database. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  7. ^ Exell, Arthur Wallis (1935). "Notes from the British Museum Herbarium". Journal of Botany, British and Foreign. 74: 263.
  8. ^ a b Brand JC, Cherikoff V, Lee A, McDonnell J (1982). "Nutrients in important bushfoods" (PDF). Proceedings of the Nutritional Society of Australia. 7: 50–54.
  9. ^ a b "Terminalia ferdinandiana Exell". NT Flora. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d Leach, Greg (31 May 2019). "Meet the Kakadu plum: an international superfood thousands of years in the making". The Conversation. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  11. ^ a b c "Kakadu Plum Management Program". Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (Northern Territory). 18 April 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  12. ^ Clarke PA (2007). Aboriginal people and their plants. Kenthurst, NSW, Australia: Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd.
  13. ^ Isaacs J. (1987). Bush Food. Australia: Weldons Pty Ltd.
  14. ^ Hegarty MP, Hegarty EE. Food Safety of Australian Plant Bushfoods, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation 2001; publication number 01/28, ACT, Australia.
  15. ^ Gorman JT, Griffiths AD, Whitehead PJ (2006). "An analysis of the use of plant products for commerce in remote Aboriginal communities of Northern Australia". Econ Bot. 60 (4): 362–373. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2006)60[362:AAOTUO]2.0.CO;2.
  16. ^ a b Williams, David J.; Edwards, David; Pun, Sharon; Chaliha, Mridusmita; Burren, Brian; Tinggi, Ujang; Sultanbawa, Yasmina (16 August 2016). "Organic acids in Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana): The good (ellagic), the bad (oxalic) and the uncertain (ascorbic)" (PDF). Food Research International. 89 (1): 237–244. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2016.08.004. ISSN 1873-7145. PMID 28460910.
  17. ^ Department of Health (Northern Territory) (2005). "Chapter 3: Food and Nutrition". Public Health Bush Book. Volume 2: Facts & Approaches to Three Key Public Health Issues. Retrieved 17 August 2021 – via DoH Digital Library.
  18. ^ a b O'Brien, Kristy; Levy, Anna (22 July 2021). "It's known to be a superfood, but what exactly are the health benefits of the Kakadu plum?". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  19. ^ Brann, Matt (19 September 2013). "ABC News". Bush plum proving fruitful for seafood industry. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Karen Sheldon Catering – serving up innovation". business.gov.au. Australian Government, Business. 10 June 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  21. ^ a b Mills, Vanessa (16 August 2021). "Why superfruits could see this red dirt field in Broome deliver an annual, $5m crop within years". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  22. ^ Garde, Murray. "manmorlak". Bininj Kunwok dictionary. Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  23. ^ Zorc, David. "ŋäṉ'ka-bakarra". Yolŋu Matha dictionary. Charles Darwin University. Retrieved 22 June 2019.
  24. ^ a b Russell-Smith, Jeremy (2018). Sustainable Land Sector Development in Northern Australia : Indigenous rights, aspirations, and cultural responsibilities. CRC Press. p. Box 4.4. ISBN 9780429895579.