Plum pine – Australian bush tucker

Plum pine (Podocarpus elatus), also known as the Illawarra Plum, Daalgaal or Goongum, is native to subtropical and coastal rainforest areas along the east coast of Australia. In NSW, it was considered as one of the best bush foods by both Aboriginals and early settlers.

The plum pine fruits are large purple-black berries around 2.5 cm in diameter that form adjacent to a hard dark seed. The fruit has a grape like texture and a sweetish plum like taste with a mild pine flavour that is enhanced with cooking. They can be eaten raw, made into jams or jellies, used to compliment savoury dishes with chilli and garlic or incorporated into sauces, preserves, muffins, cheesecakes and fruit compotes.

It’s a large slow growing tree, reaching 8 – 12 m tall and up to 7 m wide with shiny narrow tough dark green leaves with sharp tips. It prefers well drained soil and can be grown in either full sun or part shade and is tolerant of dry conditions, sandy soils and salt. It grows into a lovely shade tree and can also be pruned to size, making it a great edible hedge, screening or container plant.

Plum pine flowers attract bees and other insects and will start fruiting after 3 – 5 years. Birds love the fruit, which ripens from autumn to early winter. There are separate male and female plum pine trees so it’s recommended that a few trees be planted to increase chances of pollination.

Australian native plants like the plum pine can be given a feed each spring and autumn with Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser, which gently releases organic nutrients to promote healthy growth. Water regularly and mulching around the root zone with organic mulch, like bark chips, will help keep the soil moist and also add valuable organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.

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