The Cocky Apple, also known as Wulngum (Malak Malak), Pindaylany (Matngala), Mangal or Pamkujji (Jawoyn) has a botanical name of Planchonia careya is in the family Lecythidaceae. It is a common understory plant found in our beautiful savannah or open woodland landscapes. It is a calendar plant and only fruits once a year- which is right now, as the first rains start and that bright green flush goes through the bush; it fruits over a couple of months, from the build up or Dalirgang in Larrakia seasons and then into the rainy season.). It is a very pretty tree and the flowers are also very attractive, large fleshy pink and white with numerous stamens. And if you would like some technical details- The tree grows to be between 4 -10 m tall and has smooth broadly ovate leaves that often are a reddish colour when newly developing- they are smaller leaves than the green plum (Buchanania obavata) or Kakadu plum (Termnalia ferdinandiana)
The fruit are green smooth and fleshy oblong, ovoid pear shaped with a yellow fibrous inner flesh when ripe, and around 2 cm long. They are eaten when they are still green but soft to touch and they are best to pick when still on the tree. The yellow inner flesh is eaten and has the rich creamy texture similar to avocado and sweet taste with fragrant overtones.
They could be added to smoothies or eaten on toast with freshly ground pepper- I haven’t done this myself but Yvette Brady, who knows a lot about bush tucker and works with me, says this is very yummy and I am keen to try and feed back after the feed. The fruit are often eaten by insects and not in such good condition once they fall. They are a food source for many larger birds and animals too such as cockatoos (hence the name) and possums! Frill neck lizards are often attracted to the tree and hang out in the branches.
So get out there and try some out!
If you would like to grow them; within the flesh are small oval seeds, which you can propagate from. And the plant has many other uses- strong string or rope can also be made from the inner bark of these species, which can also be used for boils, burns and spear wounds if made into a hot poultice. Heated leaves are also used to treat spear wounds, fish stings and headaches. The roots can be applied to prickly heat and skin conditions. Root bark also can be made into a string and made into ceremonial belts.