Kakadu Plum study breaks new ground

In the first study of its kind, senior vegetation ecologists and soil scientists from the Department of Environment, Parks and Water Security (DEPWS) have combined their knowledge and expertise to identify Kakadu Plum’s natural soil preferences.

The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana), also known as gubinge or billygoat plum, is a small fruit found in the Eucalypt open woodlands across Northern Australia and has the highest natural source of Vitamin C.

Despite extensive research regarding the health, medicinal and potential economic and social benefits of a potential Kakadu Plum industry to regional communities across the Top End, no information until now has existed regarding its preferred growing soils.

The distribution data to date indicates that the species largely inhabits areas north of Mataranka in the northern and north-western parts of the Territory.

The study analysed more than 25,000 field based vegetation and soil records from across the Top End, identifying soil properties at sites where Kakadu plum was present in significant stands.

“Vegetation ecologists and soil scientists have collected field based data at the same locations for over 50 years, providing the foundations for this unprecedented study,” said DEPWS Senior Vegetation Ecologist Diane Napier.

“The research has determined that while the species is somewhat adaptable to a range of soil types, Kakadu Plum prefers the deeper well-drained loamy red earths of the north-west Top End.

“These deeper well-drained loamy red soils provide the necessary medium for the tree’s root system as well as adequate soil moisture availability. Kakadu Plum does however grow in poorer drained soils, suggesting the species may respond well to irrigation.”

Based on the findings of this particular study and soil mapping projects recently carried out across the Top End under the Mapping the Future Program, some regional communities are now seeking advice from the Department regarding potential trial sites.

You can read the report here: https://territorystories.nt.gov.au/10070/850386

Kakadu Plum