the best new discovery to aid indigenous communities …

My long week of field trips last week was the culmination of years of research for a product or products, led by Queensland Food Science Researcher, Dr Yasmina Sultan-Bawa:

  1. Provide a very good income for indigenous outstations and communities with a view to eliminating government handouts, right across the north of Australia.
  2. Help eliminate chemical additives in food products with a replacement from the plant world.
  3. Aid in proving a healthy alternative to artificial chemical medicines and cosmetics.
  4. Plan and implement Savannah Enrichment plantings, to augment the current small wild harvest.
  5. Remove a fast growing weed tree spreading across the north (Neem), and other weeds, and replace with the native trees we select.

The tree species found to cover all these points is Terminalia ferdinandiana, and a few other Terminalia relatives.

Terminalia ferdinandiana fruit.

Terminalia ferdinandiana fruit.

About the size of olives, this fruit has been eaten by people for as long as Australia has been inhabited, but only now is it’s value known b y the science community. Best known as the fruit with the highest vitaminC, Dr Sultan-Bawa has found many other varieties of acids, sugars and polyphenols, from which the new formulas are produced.

Terminalia ferdinandianaTrials have been under way for several years, and the products are available in small quantities from wild harvesting, while our group has begun planting a few thousand trees, and planning much more across the north of Australia.

Here in Broome we have been fortunate to have the (Tony Abbott’s) Green Army Projects involved, removing weeds and planting this species and some companion species to aid pollination.

Locally this fruit is known as Gubinge, and in the NT it is called the Kakadu Plum. More details will come once Dr Sultan-Bawa’s research is published. The Seafood Industry is the first to replace SO2 in preserving prawns by dipping in a Gubinge fruit glaze.

2016-07-19 12.51.49Dr Sultan-Bawa pictured, centre, with some indigenous traditional owners discussing the future of Gubinge with interested parties in Broome. A partnership is being formed between traditional owners right across Australia’s North.

Neil Gower, CEO of Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation, Dr Sultan-Bawa and myself at the Mangrove Hotel in Broome

Neil Gower, CEO of Mamabulanjin Aboriginal Corporation, Dr Sultan-Bawa and myself at the Mangrove Hotel in Broome

The media have picked up the story:

No, ABC, plant species names does not use capital F, but f. Small quantities have been harvested and processed for several years now as a VitaminC additive in processed foods:

Gubinge Powder – Wildcrafted Nyul Nyul – Vitamin C – Loving Earth

Health Benefits. Gubinge is a bush plum; there’s a lot of hype around stuff coming out of the Amazon, Acai and so on, but Gubinge is a really powerful indigenous Australian superfood. It’s the highest natural source of Vitamin C on the planet, and that’s been verified.

A number of other indigenous species are also being scientifically examined at the Queensland University Food Science wing.

Terminalia ferdinandiana Terminalia ferdinandiana Terminalia ferdinandianaThis fruit has also been found to benefit cancer treatment and Alzheimer’s disease.

About Tom Harley

Amateur ecologist and horticulturalist and CEO of Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Inc. (Tom Harley) Kimberley Environmental Horticulture Incorporated Kimberley Environmental Horticulture (KEH) is a small group of committed individuals who promote the use of indigenous plants for the landscaping of parks and gardens. Rehabilitation of Kimberley coast, bushland and pastoral regions are also high on our agenda. This includes planting seedlings, weed control, damage from erosion or any other environmental matter that comes to our attention. We come from all walks of life, from Professionals and Trades oriented occupations, Pensioners and Students, Public Servants and the Unemployed. We have a community plant nursery where we trial many old and new species, with a view to incorporating these into our landscaping trials. Our labour force are mainly volunteers, but with considerable help from the 'work for the dole' program, Indigenous Community Development Employment Program (CDEP) groups and the Ministry of Justice, with their community work orders; in this way we manage to train many people in the horticultural skills needed for indigenous plant growing. We constantly undertake field trips that cover seed and plant collection in the Kimberley. Networking around the Kimberley region and the east Pilbara is a necessary part of promoting our activities. We consult on a range of Environmental and Landscaping matters that deal with our region. Our activities involve improving Broome's residential streetscapes by including 'waterwise' priciples in planting out nature strips. Sustainable environmental horticulture is practised by members of our group. We use existing vegetation as the backbone of any plantings, using these species to advantage when planning to develop tree forms or orchards. The Broome region is sensitive to development. Subsequently many weed species have become dominant in and around developed areas. The use and movement of heavy machinery is the biggest single cause of environmental degradation. We dont live in a 'Tropical Paradise' but on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. The plants that survive best here, grow in well-drained pindan sand, and are found from the Dampier Peninsular southward to where average rainfall is below 600mm. When we use rainforest species, detail is important when planting, water catchment, sunlight and understorey species are all considered. The use of recycled 'grey' water is an advantage here as well as treated waste-water, although many local species do not fare well with nutrients from this source. We use waterwise planting methods which include harvesting asmuch rainwater as possible, with swales designed to hold up to 200 litres, to help recharge the local groundwater aquifer. There has been a serious decline in this aquifer over the last few years. With the fast expansion of the Broome peninsular, more and more land is being covered by concrete, iron and bitumen so that much less water is available to replenish the aquifer, allowing the salt content to become significantly higher. The small Broome Peninsular is on the south-western corner of the Dampier Peninsular (bound by Broome, Derby and Cape Leveque at the northern tip). Compaction by vehicles also inhibits water retention due to the content of our local pindan sand, hard as concrete in the dry, going to soft and sloppy mud after rain. None of us are botanists, inevitably we have got some names wrong, names changed, or have not gone to sub-species level. If you note a photo or description may be wrong, please e-mail to
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2 Responses to the best new discovery to aid indigenous communities …

  1. Pingback: Terminalia ferdinandiana | northwestplants

  2. Pingback: the best new discovery to aid indigenous communities … | pindanpost | Cranky Old Crow

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