With a fruit up to 5 cms long, a deep burgundy to nearly black when ripe and looking like a plum, Davidsonia jerseyana (Davidson’s Plum or Mullimbimby Plum) is an endangered native Australian “tucker” food from the rainforest areas of the Tweed and Brunswick river catchments in north-eastern New South Wales. Called Ooray by the original inhabitants who relished it, it was widely used as a jam fruit by the first European settlers and today it is having a resurgence of interest as a commercial crop for the production of jams, a very good, full-flavoured, dry, red wine, icecream flavouring and sauces.
The small to medium sized tree it is very ornamental with its compound, distinctly hairy, crinkly leaves which can grow to a metre long. One of my sources mention that some people can be irritated by these hairs though I haven’t noticed it myself. When a new growth flush occurs it is bright pink to red which gradually fades to a deep green.
Davidson’s Plum has the advantage of being able to be grown in sun or shade. Water is appreciated during dry times though I have found it has grown quite happily here without extra water during a drought. It seems to grow successfully in a wide range of soil types as long as the drainage is reasonable.
The tree is cauliferous i.e. the flowers arise on stems from the trunks of the tree much like our native Kohekohe. Unlike the Kohekohe though, spurs develop from the flowering area and carry stems of flowers there every year. The small self-fertile flowers appear in the spring in clusters on stems up to 20cm long. My best stems have set up to twenty fruit so they are quite productive.
My trees were planted about 1997 and tend to grow very upright. The fruit ripen toward the end of January and into February.
I have had only a few people who enjoy them raw as they are very sour but I really enjoy them stewed (you have to take the seeds out otherwise the flavour is not so good) They make a good fruit vinegar and probably a good wine and jam.
A lovely ornamental with good fruit. What more could you want.