Th plum name comes from the fact that the fruits are seeds with a plum like nodule at the tip of each seed. Much like small cashew nut fruit.

The Illawarra plum/brown pine is an Australian native tree

Tips on Plum Pine Care
Water a newly planted plum pine regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist but never soggy, until new growth appears, which indicates the tree has rooted successfully. Plum pine trees benefit from a light application of an all-purpose plant food in late winter or early spring. If growth appears sluggish, fertilize again in summer and early autumn. Avoid fertilizing in late autumn if there is danger of frost in your area, as new growth is more susceptible to damage. Trimming side branches will result in bushier growth. Otherwise, it’s best not to prune plum pine trees, but you can prune lightly with clippers or shears any time of year if the tree is looking shaggy.

Plum pine is adaptable to a number of growing conditions as long as the soil is well drained. The tree can handle moist soil but is likely to develop root rot in soggy conditions. It does well in sandy soil and coastal conditions, including salty sea spray. Plum pine trees, which grow in full sunlight or partial shade, are also relatively drought tolerant. Mature trees can usually withstand frost, but young trees are more susceptible to damage.

Unlike most conifers, plum pine trees don’t have cones. Instead, they have single seeds attached to the branch by a fleshy, bluish black branch. The seeds are edible and are often eaten raw or made into jams and jellies (if the birds don’t get them first). Plum pine trees, also known as Illawarra plum, grow slowly the first couple of years, eventually reaching heights of 25 to 40 feet (8-12 m.) in eight to ten years. They usually grow much taller in their natural environment, often topping out at 118 feet (36 m.).

Plum pine (Podocarpus elatus) is an attractive conifer native to the dense rain forests of Australia’s east coast. This tree, which prefers mild climates, is suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. Interested in growing Podocarpus plum pines in your garden?

Illawarra Plum is also known as the Daalgaal, Goongum or Plum Pine. Its juicy, pulpy fruits have a grape-like texture and sweetish, mild pine flavour that is enhanced by cooking. In NSW, Illawarra Plum was regarded as one of the best bush foods by both Aboriginal people and European colonists. This tree is a common rainforest species endemic to the east coast of Australia.

Illawarra Plum fruits are made up of two segments – a hard inedible seed (1cm in diameter), and a large, fleshy purple-black berry (2.5cm in diameter). They ripen between March and July, and may be eaten raw or made into a jam or jelly. They’re often used as a compliment for chilli, garlic, sauces and marinades, and are especially popular in sauces, preserves, muffins, cheesecakes and fruit compotes. When cooking with Illawarra Plums, stainless steel utensils are recommended over aluminium to prevent bitterness.

Fruits may be picked from the tree, but will also fall to the ground when ripe. This species is dioecious, meaning you’ll need both male and female trees to produce fruit. To increase your chances of pollination, best planting several plants or use as a hedge. Better still, team up with your neighbours or plant as street trees.

Illawarra Plum will grow readily in both full sun and part shade. It prefers a rich, moist, non-alkaline soil, but will tolerate a range of soil types, and must have adequate drainage. This tree is resistant to salt spray, making it suitable for coastal conditions. Leaves are shiny, narrow, tough and dark green with sharp tips.


A slow growing tree, the Illawarra Plum may be kept in pots and pruned to maintain size. If allowed to grow, it can reach 8 – 12m in height.

Aboriginal name(s):

  • Daalgaal
  • Goongum
  • Gidneywallum

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Author: Henry