‘Wild mango’, one of the earliest-known plant foods eaten in Australia, next big thing

By Australian Geographic 2 June 2020
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The green plum may just be your next favourite fruit.

THE GREEN PLUM, sometimes known as ‘wild mango’, will be the “next big thing in bush foods”, according to experts.

The small, green fruit can be found in the arid parts of the Northern Territory, and beyond its deliciousness, also has high folate levels.

“This is really exciting because folate is an important B-group vitamin, and what’s great about the green plum is that the folate is in a natural form so the body absorbs it more easily than in a capsule,” says University of Queensland bush foods expert Yasmina Sultanbawa.

Yasmina has been working with Aboriginal people in East Arnhem Land and Delye Outstation in the Northern Territory to learn more about the fruit, which is said to have been consumed in Australia for more than 53,000 years.

Related: Top 10 Indigenous bush medicines
(Image credit: Margaret Puls, University of Queensland)

The green plum belongs to the same family as mangoes and pistachio nuts, and experts are hoping for similar commercial success. 

“The green plum is a sweet fruit that consistently rates highly in the consumer taste tests we’ve run in Brisbane and could one day be as popular as table grapes,” Yasmina says.

“A lot of people don’t know about the green plum, even within the bush foods industry.”

The green plum is typically eaten raw or as a dried fruit, but has also been used for its medicinal properties in Aboriginal communities. 

“The green plum has so much goodness, it could one day help with dietary issues like the triple burden of malnutrition – undernutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies – known as hidden hunger,” Yasmina says.

For the first time ever, the Aboriginal-owned Gulkula nursery in Gove, East Arnhem Land, recently propagated the green plum and a trial harvest was completed. 

Before it enters the commercial market, however, scientists are looking to complete more tests on its nutritional value. 

“Once we get the scientific evidence about its nutritional value, chemical composition, the different maturity stages, and best time to harvest, then we can work with the communities to get it into the market as a commercial product,” Yasmina says.