Terminalia ferdinandiana

wild plum

The small fruit of these trees is common from northwestern Australia to eastern Arnhem Land, where it is termed murunga. Recently it has been

drawn to attention as possibly the richest natural source of vitamin C in the world. Research carried out at the University of Sydney’s Human

Nutrition Unit, headed by Dr Jennie Brand, has confirmed that this fruit has more than fifty times more ascorbic acid than citrus fruit. Terminalia

are tall slender tropical trees with light green leaves and grow to 10 metres in height. The green fruits are about 2 centimetres long and 1 centimetre

in diameter and contain one large pip. Brand’s team has commented that the fruit looks and tastes like an English gooseberry.

The tart fruits are not a staple food for which Aborigines might go out on a special trip, but are devoured when in season by Aboriginal children.

They are also eaten by adults on hunting trips for quick energy and refreshment and to quench thirst. The people of central Arnhem Land

regard the fruit more as a medicine than a food, obviously with good reason.