Kakadu is fun to say, isn’t it? However, besides their unique name, these plums have an even more unique flavor. It’s the ideal combination of bitter and tart. Therefore, kakadu plums are quite versatile in terms of the baking goods you can make from them.
While they’re not a type of plum you’ll find in your local grocery store’s produce aisle, you may opt to grow a kakadu plum tree in your yard, so you may enjoy this fruit at its peak harvest time or opt to can these plums for use all year long.
History of the Kakadu Plum Tree
Kakadu plum trees, also known as billygoat plums or salty plums, are a type of flowering plant that produces a distinctive fruit. This plum tree originated in the tropical woodlands of the northwestern and eastern Arnhem Land areas of Australia. They’re also native to Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Initially, the plum was utilized for its health benefits. In fact, in traditional medicine, people used these fruits to manage cold and flu symptoms as well as headaches. Additionally, the bark was used as a soothing balm and an antiseptic.
After noting the popularity of kakadu plums, Australians started to commercially harvest this fruit in the late 1990s. Particularly, they use these plums for hair, food, and skin products.
The plum did gain worldwide recognition since this fruit has the highest level of vitamin C than any other fruit. In fact, one kakadu plum has more than 50 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.
Tree / Fruit Characteristics
The kakadu plum tree is a smaller or medium-sized tree with rounded leaves. It’s about 13 to 32 feet in height.
Initially, the fruit tree grows cream-colored flowers that grow in clusters toward the ends of the branches, usually between August and October.
From March to June of the following year, green fruits appear that usually get between .1 to .2 of an ounce in weight. They’re usually between one-half inch and one inch in length. Often, they’re similar in size to a cherry. It tends to get yellow or purple later in the season.
Ideally, these plums thrive best in tropical weather. Zones eight and nine are most suited for this particular plum tree. In these areas, the plum tree can receive the sunshine it needs.
You may be able to grow these plums in other zones as long as you get sunlight and minimal frost since they prefer warm weather above freezing temperatures.
Size and Spacing
You don’t necessarily need more than one kakadu plum tree. However, since these trees are known to get wide, you want to plant them far apart from one another if you do have more than one. This ensures they get enough sunlight without blocking out the sun to the other one.
The kakadu plum is a self-pollinator. That means it only requires one plant to pollinate, which makes it ideal if you only want one plant or have limited space in your yard. That means, one plant has both male and female parts. The pollen from an anther of one flowered is transferred to the stigma of either the same flower or another flower on the plant.
Kakadu Plum Tree Care
The kakadu is quite a temperamental plant that requires a balance of sun and water. It also needs regular pruning to ensure the plant continues to thrive and doesn’t acquire a widespread disease.
This particular plum tree is partial to the sun. Generally, you want to plant it in a place that gets ample sun all day. It needs to be spaced out from other plum trees and trees in general because it likes between 80 and 100 percent of the sun.
Watering The Kakadu Plum Tree
It needs a moderate amount of water. It ultimately depends on where you live how often and how much you’ll need to water it. Areas that are known to get less rainfall won’t need to water it as much as a plant that doesn’t get much rain.
Pruning The Kakadu Plum Tree
Despite the fact that might be fruit on the tree still, you want to prune this plum between June and July. This allows you to get rid of unhealthy, broken, and dead branches, so your tree continues to thrive. At this point, if the pruning stimulates any new growth, the branches will be big enough to survive the winter. However, you’re not pruning too early that it affects the tree flowering and developing fruit.
When you prune the tree, you should remove branches that appear to have any type of disease. You want to stop the disease from spreading, so it may require treatment after you rid the tree of its unhealthy branches. You also want to remove dead and broken branches. Keep in mind that a broken branch can allow a disease to enter and infect the plant.
Common Uses For The Fruit
The fruit is tart and bitter. It’s not sweet and tart like you think of when you taste a typical plum.
Cooking The Kakadu Plum
You may want to cook kakadu plums into a jam or jelly. With either, you’ll want to combat the sour taste with sugar.
Kakadus can also be used to make brownies, cakes, scones, and more.
You could also add these plums to a stir-fry or other similar dish to add a hint of tart naturally. It’s also a taste that’s unlike other tart fruits like lemons, oranges, and limes.
You could try adding them to ice cream for a truly unique flavor.
Eating Kakadu Plums Raw
It’s safe to eat the kakadu plum raw, and some people do. However, its taste makes it undesirable for some people, and a better fruit to use in baked goods. Additionally, the fruit has a fibrous texture, which is also a turn-off to some people.
You may choose to can these plums whole, in halves, or in pieces. Keep in mind that they’re small, so it may be difficult to deseed the fruit. You should also keep in mind that you’ll need a large quality to can since they’re a smaller fruit. You can choose to store them in water, syrup, or juice.
If you want to freeze these fruits, you should start by rinsing them off first. Then you cut and remove the seed. Without the pit, you’ll be able to eat them frozen. However, if you’re only freezing to keep them fresh, you can defrost them and use them in recipes just like you would when they’re fresh.
You may opt to dry these plums. You can place them in a dehydrator or oven on a low-temperature setting for several hours. You may also get creative and try using an air fryer. You’ll, however, need to read the instructions carefully to figure out how to use your air fryer as a dehydrator. If you’re not a fan of the tart taste of this plum, you might not like this.
Health Benefits of that Fruit
As briefly mentioned above, kakadu plums are known for their vitamin C content. This vitamin is also an antioxidant, meaning it prevents cellular oxidation that can damage a cell.
This vitamin is necessary for the development, growth, and repair of tissue. It plays a role in your immune system’s function. Your body requires vitamin C to maintain your bones, cartilage, and teeth, along with wound healing. Your body requires vitamin C to absorb iron — a mineral necessary for the production of hemoglobin, which is needed to transport for blood cells to carry oxygen.
Kakadu plums are high in fiber. Your body requires fiber for normal bowel movements. Specifically, fiber bulks up your stool and softens it, so it’s easier to pass. In addition, fiber helps keep your cholesterol levels low and can aid in blood sugar control. Plus, it’s beneficial for weight management.
You can obtain the total amount of copper that your body needs from one kakadu plum and part of the iron your body requires.
This fruit only has 59 calories. While you don’t to consume a high number at a time, they’re low enough in calories that you can a few without worrying, especially since it’s low in fat.
Where To Buy This Fruit Tree?
This fruit tree is quite hard to come by in the US. You can check out the selection of plums available from Nature Hills Nursery or look on the Internet for nurseries that offer this particular plum tree, such as ones in Australia. It’s possible to buy the seeds online.
Where To Buy The Fruit
The fruit is hard to come by in the US, just like the plants and seeds. You can purchase them on some sites in Australia, though. If you’re looking for the plum for its health benefits, you can find it online in many places in powder form. You could also find beauty products that contain this plum since it’s rich in antioxidants.
This fruit isn’t commonly grown in the US. You’ll want to make sure your climate is suitable for this tree before you proceed to purchase one. If you do get one, you’ll reap the reward of its nutrient-rich fruit.