The Green Plum, (Buchanania obovata), or Yankumwani Wiyini in Irene’s language, is a favoured bush tucker across the Top End. It is eaten when the fruit ripens in the late build-up or early wet season, usually just before Christmas. The fruits remains green but are soft to touch and have a tangy taste a little like ginger beer. They contain a large, dark seed.
Tiwi people use the Green Plum in several ways; the inner red bark is used as a dye for fibre-crafts; the flexible but strong young stems can be used as an aid when climbing tall trees; the new suckers that appear after a grass fire are red and fleshy and they can be eaten and the green sap of new growth is used as a glue to mix with paint to make it stay strong and vibrant.
In other parts of the Northern Territory this species is used as a powerful medicine to treat toothaches, headaches, ringworm, insect bites, fever, eczema, ringworm and other skin disorders. The fruit can also be sun-dried and rubbed with red ochre to use as a food resource during periods of extreme food shortage. In some areas Green Plum is a calendar plant and its flowering indicates the time when freshwater crocodiles are about to lay eggs.
The fruits resemble small mangoes in shape and the Green Plum and the mango are in the same family, Anacardiaceae, and indeed they fruit around the same time of year.