SCIENTIFIC NAME: Davidsonia pruriens
FAMILY: Cunoniaceae

Common Name: Davidson's plum, Ooray Varieties: jerseyana, pruriens, sp.nova This magnificent, slender shrub or small tree grows approx. 6-10m. It occurs in our rainforests between the Brunswick River in the south and Cooktown in the north and also in Fiji. Named after J.E. Davidson, a pioneer sugar grower at Rockingham Bay where the first specimen was collected.

The leaves are hairy, leathery, dark green with toothed margins whilst the new furry growth is highly decorative, varying from pink to bright red. The flowers are brownish which hang from the trunk on narrow pendulous panicles up to 70cm long.

Tiny golden hairs cover the fruits which are egg-shaped or drupe-like, being purplish, bluey-black in colour and hang in clusters around the trunk. The pulp is deep crimson and quite juicy. Fruits grow 5-8cm long and contain two seeds.

The variety jerseyana or southern Davidson's plum is shorter and often multi-trunked, producing large quantities of fruit in winter (Aug-Oct) whereas the northern variety pruriens is normally larger in size and has larger fruits and leaves, producing in summer (Jan-Feb). Fruiting usually occurs within 3-4 years if well-cared for.

Protection from hot sun and drying winds when young, and by adding generous amount of organic matter, fertilizer and water ensure vigorous and optimum growth of this marvelous rainforest tree. Full sun to semi shade is preferred and is able to tolerate mild frost. Note that severe heat, wind and frost can damage and possibly kill young trees. Well-drained soil is essential, but it will adapt to a variety of soil types.

The timber of this plant is dark-brown, hard, tough and durable being suitable for making tool handles. A one-on-one mixture of pulp and sugar is all that is needed for a delicious and very richly coloured plum jam. Wine can also be made along with pies, jellies and purees, which are delicious when poured over mountains of ice cream. They can also be eaten fresh but are best when very ripe because of their acidy taste which does take some acquiring.

One to two of these lovely rainforest trees are all that is required to supply your family with a delicate treat.

More research is needed into many of our native rainforest plants. Plants which have edible qualities and medicinal properties are still being discovered and researched, but even so, many of these are rare and endangered. We need to have more thought and diligence when encountering the rainforests or we may leave a legacy for our children's future. By planting more of these trees in our gardens we are helping in the preservation of our beautiful rainforests.

T.P. Delalande
Capricornia Branch News Vol.9 No.4

DATE: September 1992

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