Davidsonia pruriens

Distribution Map
Family: Cunoniaceae
Distribution: Rainforests of north-eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.
Common Name: Davidson's plum.
Derivation of Name: Davidsonia; after J.E.Davidson.
pruriens....from Latin pruriens, an itching sensation, a reference to the hairy surface of the leaves and stems.
Conservation Status: var.jerseyana is listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act* (ie. "facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future, as determined in accordance with prescribed criteria"). var.pruriens is not considered to be at risk in the wild.

General Description:

Davidsonia is a small genus of 2 or 3 species which occur in rainforests of north-eastern New South Wales and Queensland.

Davidsonia pruriens
Brightly coloured new growth on
Davidsonia pruiens

Photo: Brian Walters

Davidsonia pruriens
Fruit of Davidsonia pruriens
Photo: Doug Brownlow

Davidson's Plum is reasonably well know in cultivation, particularly among Australian plant enthusiasts. It is usually a small to medium sized tree which can reach 10 metres under ideal conditions. It has distinctive, hairy, foliage which is usually bright pink when new. The leaves are divided into leaflets (pinnate) and may be up to 800 mm long. The reddish-brown flowers occur in pendulous clusters in spring. These are followed by purple, edible fruits up to 50mm diameter which resemble small plums.

There are two recognised varieties; D.pruriens var. pruriens is the northern form which is generally a much larger plant in all of its parts than the southern var. jerseyana.

D.pruriens has adapted well to cultivation even in southern Australia. It's decorative foliage has made it a popular plant for a large container and it will tolerate extended periods indoors. The fruits, while edible, are not particularly palatable, however, they make excellent jams and a full-flavoured, dry red wine. Plants will grow in full to part sun and respond to regular applications of a complete garden fertilizer.

Plants are generally propagated from fresh seed but cuttings are also successful.

* EPBC Act = Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;
  For further information refer the Australian Plants at Risk page

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