Kakadu plum (scientific name Terminalia ferdinandiana) is a flowering species belonging to the plant family Combretaceae. The plant has its origin in Australia, but now it is found extensively all over the tropical woodlands ranging from the north-eastern region of Australia to the eastern part of Arnhem Land. The kakadu plum fruit contains very elevated levels of vitamin C. Kakadu plum has been documented that the fruit may have a vitamin C concentration of anything between 2300 mg/ 100gm wet weight to 3150 mg/ 100 gm wet weight. As compared to the usual 50 mg/ 100gm vitamin C in oranges, occasionally, the concentration of this nutrient may even be as high as 5300 mg/ 100 gm. Hence, it is not surprising that kakadu plum is known to be the highest known natural resource of this nutrient.
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A thin and small to average sized tree, Terminalia ferdinandiana grows up to a height of 14 meters. The bark of this tree is grey and flaky, while its pale green leaves are deciduous. Kakadu palm trees bear small, creamy white, aromatic flowers. The flowers appears along spikes from the leaf axils and continue towards the branch terminals. Terminalia ferdinandiana trees are in bloom between the period from September to December (during spring/ summer in the southern hemisphere). The leaf blades are very discolorous and their shape generally varies from elliptical to ovate. Sometimes, the leaves also appear in obovate shape and measure anything between 11 cm and 33 cm long and have a width of 8.5 cm to 23 cm. In addition, the apex of the leaf is generally rounded. The inflorescences of kakadu plum measure about 16 cm to 19 cm in length and they are glabrous all over.
The kakadu plum is a yellowish-green fruit measuring about 2 cm in length and 1 cm across. The shape of this fruit is akin to that of almond, but has a break at its apex. The fruit encloses a solitary large seed. The fruits start ripening from March.
The kakadu plum fruit is commonly referred to as billygoat plum and the aborigines in Australia use the fruit in the form of a bush tucker. Generally, the pale green, roundish fruits are consumed raw. However, the fruits can also be used to make a jam.
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Currently, people in some regions have begun cultivating kakadu plum and the harvests are also being supplied to markets to meet the growing demands for this fruit. However, it has been found that the levels of vitamin C in this fruit has a tendency to decline when the plants are cultivated in less harsh conditions than in the wild.
The skin as well as the flesh of kakadu plum can be eaten raw. The fruits have a enjoyable, but slightly acidic flavour. However, fruits from some specimens can taste very salty.
Kakadu plum fruits offer a number of health benefits. As people are becoming aware of its health benefits, the demand for this tart flavoured fruit with a solitary large, hard seed is growing in some parts of the globe. The ripened fruits are harvested between March and June. While the fruit is consumed raw as well as used for preparing a jam, the tree itself is employed for therapeutic purposes. The flaky bark of this tree is applied directly to infections and burn injuries, while the sap exuded by the tree is used topically to treat joint inflammation.
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When our immune system is weakened and not functioning optimally, it is very natural that we become susceptible to various infections as well as diseases. In fact, people suffering from deficiency of vitamin C frequently suffer from diseases, as their body's ability to combat infections is reduced significantly. In such instances, consuming vegetables, fruits and foods with rich vitamin C content, like the kakadu plum fruit, may help to reinforce the immune system. At the same time, it will also lower the chances of developing chronic diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and other conditions related to the gall bladder.
In addition to the above mentioned prosperities of vitamin C, this nutrient is also a potent antioxidant. Kakadu plum is loaded with vitamin C. In fact, its vitamin C content is more than most foods available across the globe today. It has been established that antioxidants shield our body from various types of damages by neutralizing the detrimental free radicals, which has been related to cancer as well as several other health conditions. According to theories presented by experts, the aging process is also a fall out of the amassing of free radicals in our cells over a period of time.
Since kakadu plum contains very high levels of vitamin C, it is also used in various cosmetic products. This vitamin helps the body to produce an amino acid known as proline, which, in turn, helps in the production of collagen. Findings of various scientific studies have revealed that antioxidant helps to lessen wrinkles as well as other signs of aging, especially when vitamin C is used regularly and continually. Aside from vitamin C, kakadu plum also encloses other vitamins including vitamin E, folate and lutein. It also encloses vital essential minerals like iron and zinc, which are all useful for healthy skin.
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Aside from vitamins and essential minerals, this fruit is also an excellent natural resource of dietary fiber. A serving of half cup (125 gm) kakadu plum provides our body with roughly 7.1 grams of the 25 grams to 30 grams of dietary fiber recommended daily for an adult. Fiber helps to keep the human digestive system functioning optimally as it works to enlarge the stools, thereby facilitating their smooth passage through the intestines. Hence, regular consumption of kakadu plum is highly beneficial for people suffering from constipation as well as loose, runny stools due to diarrhea.
The demand for kakadu plum is on the rise, as researchers have revealed the various health benefits of this fruit. Hence, it is advisable that this fruit ought to be the first choice for all who are seeking a healthy life.
Kakadu plum is also beneficial for people prone to cardiovascular diseases. Though consumption of this fruit may not be sufficient enough to bring down the levels of blood cholesterol to prevent a heart attack, it has been shown to save the arteries from it. This property of the fruit is attributed to its high vitamin C content.
Many scientific studies have demonstrated that taking a balanced diet, which also includes elevated amounts of vitamin C, is highly beneficial in reducing the progression of the arteries becoming hardened.
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The aborigines of Australia consumed kakadu plum whenever they undertook long treks or were on a hunting trip. They valued this fruit as a medicine and more than any food. In fact, they consumed the fruit as a medicine.
Aside from the kakadu plum fruit, other parts of this tree were also useful for the Australian aboriginal people. They used the inner bark of the kakadu plum tree to treat various skin complaints as well as infections. It was also used to heal sores, boils and wounds. A study undertaken recently has reported that the fruit possesses antibacterial activity.
In addition, the bark of kakadu plum tree was employed by the Australian aboriginal people for treating various skin-related disorders, for instance boils and sores. Similarly, they used the fruit for preparing tea to combat common cold as well as flu. In present times, you may find the extract of kakadu plum fruit in several health products, including lotions, creams meant for correcting dark spots, shampoos and other similar conditions. In addition, you may also find the juice of this fruit at many health food stores.
The extract as well as the juice of kakadu fruit is also useful in combating fungal infections like ringworm as well as in treating bacterial infections. It is also used for leprosy treatment. Since this fruit contains elevated amounts of antioxidants as well as essential minerals, kakadu plum may prove to be very effective in combating diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease as well as cancer.
The kakadu palm tree is found growing naturally the length of the Kimberley coast in Western Australia extending westwards up to Broome and then eastwards to the Northern Territory. This species can grow in various habitats, which include flood plains, sand plains, ridges, creek beds, on the periphery of mangrove areas as well as among vine thickets. Kakadu palm trees thrive well on clay or peaty soils, sandy soils and in the region of sandstone as well as areas rich in ironstone content. It is worth noting that in the Northern Territory of Australia, these trees are generally found mainly in the western areas of the top end that extends from the border of West Australia to the Arnhem Land. Nevertheless, kakadu plum trees are found growing naturally towards the east extending to the Limmen National Park. Moreover, this species is also found among the eucalypt communities.