Davidson’s Plum – 2010

Donna and Hec Smith


Davidsonia pruriens var.jerseyana:  This variety of Davidson’s Plum occurs only in riverine rainforest of the Tweed and Brunswick valleys of the Far North Coast of NSW.

The small pink flowers cluster around the trunk followed by the juicy fruit that ripen to a deep purple in the months of December to February. The fruit are coated with fine golden hairs – puriens means itching.

Davidsonia pruriens var. pruriens: This variety of plum is native to North Queensland from Cardwell to Cooktown.

Long panicles of small pink flowers are followed in autumn and winter by pendulous bunches of purple fruit.

History of Davidson’s Plums at Cudgen 

Hec Smith started to plant trees on his 24 hectare property “Amana Park” at Cudgen ( Tweed Valley, Far North Coast NSW) in the early 1970’s. In 1980 as   part of that tree planting project he planted a rainforest plot ( the seedlings obtained from the Brunswick/Tweed reforestation group}. In this group of trees was one Davidson’s Plum (Davidsonia pruriens-jerseyana).

After many years this tree fruited and Dad propagated seedlings that he planted out in orchard style with Queensland maples providing the canopy covering. He now has planted some 350 trees that all originate from that one tree in 1980, which is still producing well.

“Amana Park” Davidson’s Plums and Tamborine Mountain Distillery

In early 2008 after many years of watching  kilos of ripe fruit dropping to the ground, Dad said to me that it was about time to see if I could sell them.

The crop (176 kilo) of Nov 2008 to Jan 2009  was able to be sold, but when it came to the selling of the 2009-10 crop the previous market was not available, and thanks to the Global Financial Crisis no other prospects eventuated.

By May with 137 kilos of frozen fruit unsold I was considering loss of the harvest.

Dad being a devoted weekly viewer of ABC’s Landline show shared with me the story of  Tamborine Mountain Distillery he had seen. He was very enthused by Michael and Alla’s story and what they had achieved. Plus they were not far away, the Hinterland of the Gold Coast.

My immediate comment to Dad was “maybe they can make a Davidson’s Plum Liqueur”

The following week I was at a community presentation also attended by Mr Max Boyd the former Mayor of the Tweed Shire,  I was seeking his advice on possible outlets for my plums and in the discussion we both made mention of  Tamborine Mountain Distillery. Max said he was making a visit to the distillery in the next few days, I said “ask if they make a plum liqueur”.

In early June I also contacted Michael, Alla and daughter Sonya with the proposition that I had the plums they had the know how  – could a Davidson’s Plum Liqueur be made?.

Later in the month Dad and I loaded 130kg of plums into the car and headed up the mountain to the distillery, to be met enthusiastically by Alla and Michael who immediately put plums into their unique stills.

In August back down the mountain came beautiful hand painted bottles containing Wild Forest Plum Liqueur made from Davidson’s Plum var.jerseyana. from “Amana Park” at Cudgen.

My Dad being in his 90th year  and still planting rainforest trees and Davidson’s Plums as I write has been rewarded greatly by this meeting with Tamborine Mountain Distillery, and trust that the wider population will enjoy the fruits of this indigenous tree.

Donna Smith