Burdekin plum is a tropical, rainforest tree which may reach 20 metres but which is usually smaller in cultivation. Leaves are pinnate (comprising leaflets on opposite sides of a central axis) consisting of 3 to 11 leaflets. They are dark, shiny green with bronze new growth. Flowers are relatively inconspicuous with male and female flowers occurring on separate trees. The fruits are large and fleshy and, when ripe, are deep purple in colour. Flowering occurs in winter and spring and the fruits ripen in summer and autumn.
The fruits of Pleiogynium timoriense has received some attention as “bush tucker”. The flavour is palatable and, although fairly astringent, can be made into excellent jams. The fruits are used as a food by Aborigines but were not appreciated by Joseph Banks who collected samples in 1770. Banks complained that the fruits were “so full of a large stone that eating them was but an unprofitable business”.
The tree is an hardy and attractive species for sub tropical and tropical areas and can also be grown in inland areas if water is available. It is fairly slow growing and is best suited to well drained, reasonably rich soils.
Propagation is usually carried out from seed but cuttings are also successful.
Fruit of Pleiogynium timoriense
Photo: Eric Anderson