Kakadu Plum -- Australia's Native Vitamin C Bomb Everyone Wants A Piece Of

03/12/2015 6:50 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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We call it: Anmorlak This is also called billygoat plum. In Gunumeleng season, the tree starts flowering, providing nectar for birds, bees and bats. In Banggerreng season the small green fruits are good to eat and a great source of vitamin C.

It's the richest known source of Vitamin C, richer than the blueberry in antioxidants and is native to Australia. So why haven't we heard more about the kakadu plum?

Grown across the top end of Northern Australia, the kakadu plum (also known as the Billygoat Plum, Gubinge or Murunga) has long been used by indigenous Australians for its medicinal properties, but has recently garnered the attention of cosmetic and health food companies around the world.

So much so, David Boehme of the wholesale supplier of the plum Wild Harvest NT -- is concerned we are at risk of losing the crop to offshore production -- a development which would undoubtedly impact the local indigenous communities who harvest it.

One of our friends sorting freshly picked Gubinge down at Mid Lagoon! Deadly afternoon!

A photo posted by Twin Lakes Cultural Park (@twinlakesmob) on

"The amount of retail inquiries are almost unbelievable at the moment," Boehme told The Huffington Post Australia. "We can't deal with the demand.

"We have inquiries all over the world for seeds and have to say they are not available. Look at what happened to the lemon myrtle. That's an amazing plant, native to Australia, and where do you think the plantations are? Malaysia. It’s gone. The Australian industry has been compromised because the federal government has not come to the party in identifying and protecting these Australian plants.

"Unless something to that effect comes into play, I believe, in the long term, it will be very devastating for remote indigenous communities.

"What this plant is and what it’s evolving as -- it's a resource that could be the wealth of many communities in the top end of Australia."

Available to purchase whole (though apparently possessing a tart and bitter taste), the kakadu plum can also be bought as a liquid extract, pureed or as a freeze-dried powder.

But what's so great about the kakadu plum, anyway?

First of all, its extreme vitamin C potency, measuring 100 times that of an orange. This is particularly attractive to cosmetic companies developing skin treatments.

"Vitamin C greatly assists the process of collagen synthesis, which, in turn, protects our skin from premature aging," nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge told HuffPost Australia.

"The amount of vitamin C found in the kakadu plum is extraordinary compared to what the normal consumer is used to. Yes, blueberries are highly concentrated as are oranges -- but the kakadu plum blows them out of the water."

The fruit is also so high in antioxidants, Western Australian researchers believe it could emerge as the most powerful antioxidant treatment in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

#kakaduplum #kakadu #vitaminc #antioxidant #plum #vitamine #skincare #Gubinge Great new skincare ingredient high in vitamin c & e

A photo posted by Charene Beauty Services (@charene_beauty_services) on

Furthermore, the kakadu plum contains phytochemicals such as gallic and ellagic acids, known for their antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activities.

Previous efforts to supply the plum on a large scale have been hampered by its remote growing location and the fact it can be an unreliable harvest.

"Larger companies are bursting at the seams, wanting to do things, but they don't have confidence in supply and rightly so,"

Don’t have confidence in supply and rightly so," Boehme said.

"If they are going to market a product, they want an ongoing high volume of supply, and that confidence is not in wild harvest.

"The whole thing is variable in a wild harvest situation. You would just need to have a cyclone come through and lose the whole crop.

"We developed the first [kakadu plum] orchard 15 years ago. I know there are orchards happening with two [indigenous] communities in Broome. They aren't big orchards but they are a start."

Despite the difficulties associated with harvest, it didn't stop an American cosmetic company patenting the compounds found in the fruit, further fueling Boehme's fear it could be lost to overseas markets unless efforts are made to protect it here.

"The solution is to have the federal government protect Australian native species," Boehme said. "I don’t want to lose them like the macadamia and the lemon myrtle.

"There are so many unique plants in Australia indigenous people are so aware of that we don't know about. We have no idea what we are letting go.

"We need to see sustainable horticultural practices in Australian native plants. If we don't, we are really set to marginalise the economic opportunities for indigenous people to work on their own land."

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