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Issue 11 - June July 1999

Taste Test

Davidson Plum Wine


It is unfair to compare this wine to the conventional grape variety - the smell, taste and look of it is different.

First impression - a slightly resinous aroma and no hint of plum-iness. The look and even smell of this wine was very light and rather refreshing. I drank it room temperature but feel, like a Rose, it would do well chilled.


First taste - the piney-ness was not so distinct on tasting, having been replaced by a not at all unpleasant but rather hard to describe frontal taste which was somewhat of a cross between wine and retsina (without the heavy resin). Rather flat on the palate but nicely balanced by a delicate spritzig. A soft drop which did not have the body and bite one might have expected from a highly acidic fruit. However, I believe that Davidson is low on tannins which might account for its non-grapey taste.

Second taste - better. Still a very light wine but it began to fill out with a blend of hard-to-define tastes. Could definitely become a favourite for certain occasions.


Having tasted Davidson plum, I should have realised it doesn't really have a strong taste - just a lot of bite! Don't expect this wine to have a radically different or overpowering flavour.

 The Davidson plum (Davidsonia spp)

Adapted from the `Bushfood Starter Kit'

Family: Davidsoniaceae 

Index 11
From the Editor
Queensland Bushfood Association
A word on Buying Seed
Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corp
What's fruiting?
Native Herb Forum 1.
Ethnoecological Research.
Illawarra plum.
Methods of Growing Bushtucker
Bushfoods and Farm Forestry
Bushfood Artist.
Backhousia citriodora.
FEATURE: Davidson Plum.
Principles of Oil Extraction. J
Queensland Conference.
Solanum centrale association.
Somewhat Useful Pages.
The Value Adders: Greg Trevena and Fudge A'fare
Book Review.
Red Ochre Grill
Famous Palates


Davidsonia pruriens var. jerseyana (NSW Davidson Plum)

pruriensDavidsonia puriens var. puriens (Queensland Davidson Plum)

The large, deep purple Davidson plum, (Davidsonia pruriens) is known as the `Queen of the Rainforest'. This very sour plum makes the best bush-fruit jam or jelly and an excellent plum wine. The juice is indeed so sour that perhaps its greatest use is as an alternative to the vinegar required in tangy salad dressings. Two variations of Davidson are found with in the same species, the smooth Davidsonia and the mere common hairy variety. The latter has tiny golden irritant hairs which are easily removed by gently rubbing under running water (pruriens = itchy). The fruit contains two hard seeds, only one of which appears firm and fertile. Unfortunately, the flesh clings strongly to the these. The tree on which this fruit can be found is a treat to the eye when it shoots its new crown of velvety crimson-red leaves. The new growth contrasts with the older dark green toothed pinnate leaves, which lose their felt-like underside covering with time.

General notes:

Botanically, Davidsonia spp. are not related to the true European plums but the fruit has some similarities in size, form, colour and flavour. There are two popular species, native to rainforests of subtropical and tropical Eastern Australia, Davidsonia pruriens and D. jerseyana. The smaller northern NSW D. jerseyana, is probably the most frequently planted in commercial orchards. The fruit is more flavourful but is smaller than D. pruriens. D. pruriens has larger fruit than D. jerseyana. Perhaps not as `flavourful' as D. jerseyana, it makes excellent jams, jellies, sauces, etc. Both have a sharp, rather refreshing taste.

Edible portion Fruit

Harvest period: March - July. Also given by Les Hiddens as Aug - Jan. In Lismore (N. NSW): Dec-Jan. In N. Qld: Feb-May. Atherton (N. Qld): Apr-Sept.

Yrs to maturity: 3-5

Form: Small to medium tree, growing 6-8 m

Natural Distribution/Growing conditions:

D. pruriens occurs naturally in lowland and upland rainforest in NE Queensland. D. jerseyana occurs naturally only in the Tweed and Brunswick valleys, on the far north coast of NSW. It usually grows as an understorey in lowland subtropical rainforest and wet schlerophyll forests, in soils of basaltic and sedimentary origin.


Climatic/microclimatic conditions:

Production is ideally suited to regions with a rainfall exceeding 800 mm per annum, preferably distributed through-out the year. They prefer shelter from dry, hot and cold winds - require adequate windbreaks and shelter as young trees. D. jerseyana can survive temperatures down to -5oC. but extended periods below -3oC can cause leaf burn in young trees. Young trees tolerate no frost.

Small Acacia spp. have been used to provide protection to young trees in frosty sites.

Management reference:

Davidsonia spp are adaptable to a range of soil types, but prefer a friable soil high in organic matter. Regular applications of rich compost are suggested. Pre-planting soil treatments include: gypsum. ag-lime, rock phosphate and rock dusts, usually accompanied by deep ripping and legume cover cropping. Comparisons between existing plantings and various fertilising schedules is required to identify the preferred soil nutrition program. Good soil moisture levels are required to establish orchards, also in mature trees to initiate flowering and during fruit set and fruiting. Adequate soil moisture levels appear to be a major trigger for flowering - reasonably sized fruit and high juice content indicate that water requirements may be substantial. It is claimed that hand nipping D. jerseyana and D. pruriens will give greater yields. The greatest problems for young plants are: wind-burn, sun-burn and moisture stress. Trees are usually planted close, from 1 to 2.5 m within rows, often with taller growing trees being included. Between row spacing usually varies from 2.2 to 5 m, suitable for small farm machinery access, and usually in block plantings. D. pruriens can be used as a shelter tree for the more sun sensitive D. jerseyana. Although D. jerseyiana can be subject to a number of pests these are thought not to be beyond the capacity of "organic" standard control methods. There is disagreement on this. Good control of the fruit fly Dacus spp has been achieved with harvesting the green unripe fruit and allowing drying to occur off the tree. As a young seedling D. pruriens is more tolerant of full sun conditions than D. jerseyana. Because of its autumn/winter fruiting period D. pruriens has a lower rate of fruit pests than D. jerseyana

Traditional Aboriginal Use: Fruit eaten

Density: 275/ha

Yield at maturity:

Yields are reasonably consistent between D. jerseyana seedling trees but vary yearly. A six year old tree growing in reasonable conditions and with a single trunk had 300 fruit weighing 4 kg. Ideal conditions, in a no wind risk situation, would include multi-trunk, single row system with canopy tree protection and netting harvest method. Greatest yield would be achieved through inter-row spacing of 3.5 m and a planting density of approx. 1,350 trees per ha (5,400 trunks at av. of 4 trunks per tree). Fruit yields between D. pruriens is highly variable varying from approx 40 kg at year 9 (70kg at year 12 also claimed) while other seedling trees hardly bear at all. Therefore cashflow projections need to be based on an average of these.


By hand. It is necessary to avoid contact with irritant hairs (when trunk shaking to drop fruit) by wearing gloves, long sleeved shirts and broad rimmed hats. Irritant hairs found on fruit and leaves of D. pruriens and leaves only of D. jerseyana. Fruit ripens over a 2 to 4 week period and should be harvested during the cooler parts of the day, preferably early in the morning, every two or three days. It is easier to pick the green fruit. A fruit bin and shelf storage system in cold rooms would be most suitable for bulk quantities.

Supplied as: Fresh, frozen.

Typical value adding:

Best known for the tangy deep crimson jam they are also used in sauces (savoury & sweet), wine, salad dressing, desserts, fruit leather, preserves, conserves, confectionery, juices and cordials. Fruit pulp could be frozen or processed on-farm. Fruit is used to produce jam, make wine, stewed with sugar, and colouring and flavouring in sauces, ice-creams and drinks.

Current purchasing price: $11-$15/kg for D. pruriens, washed and split.

$6-$15/kg for D. jerseyana depending on season.

Perceived demand: High

The magazine would like to hear from anyone who is processing Davidson plum - most especially anyone who is drying the flesh.

Contact me on:

Ph: 07 5494 3812

Fax: 07 5494 3506

sammy - at - ausbushfoods.com

or write to:


PO Box 164

Maleny Qld 4552