Plants of
South Australia
Owenia acidula
Emu Apple,
Sour Plum
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 4

Common names

Emu Apple

Sour Plum


Owenia named after Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892), a British biologist and pioneer in vertebrate palaeontology who published many papers on extinct mammals of Australia. Acidula from Latin meaning a little sour; referring to the fruit which is eatable and have a sour flavor.

Distribution and status

Found in the far north-eastern corner in South Australia, with a single record from the Uno Bluff on the Eyre Peninsula, growing on the alluvial flats, undulating plains and ridge slopes. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Western Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Lake Eyre, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Small tree to 4 m high, glabrous with pendulous branches, ooze a milky sap when broken. Leaves with 9-25 leaflets, to 15 cm long, leaflets linear-lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, to 50 mm long and 8 mm wide, apex obtuse or acute, bright green and shiny. Inflorescence a panicle to 12 cm long with brownish-white to cream-coloured tubular flowers. Male and female flowers on separate plant. Flowering between November and December. Fruits are round purplish-red fruit to 4 cm wide with a large stone-like seed.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and April. Collect fruits that are purplish-red in colour. The fruit will ripen further after coming off the tree. Seeds can also be collecting from under the tree. Place the fruits in a bucket of water and rub with your hands to remove the soft flesh. Place the seeds on paper towel and leave to dry. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.