Bush Sultana Charcoal by A. Napanangka
Kutjea, or Australian desert raisin (Solanum centrale) is a native to the more arid parts of Australia. Like other “bush tomatoes”, it has been used as a food source by Central Australian Aboriginal groups for millennia.
Like many plants of the Solanum genus, desert raisin is a small bush and has a thorny aspect. It is a fast growing shrub that fruits prolifically the year after fire or good rains. It can also grow back after being dormant as root stock after any drought years. The vitamin C-rich fruit are 1-3 cm in diameter and yellow in colour when fully ripe. They dry on the bush and look like raisins. These fruits have a strong pungent smell of tamarillo and caramel that makes them popular for use in sauces and condiments. They can be obtained either whole or ground, with the ground product (sold as “kutjera powder”) easily added to bread mixes, salads, sauces, cheese dishes, chutneys, stews or mixed into butter.
Merne Akatyerre (Arrenrnte language) means Bush Sultana in the Northern Territory. It is a nutrient fruit. Sultana plants are low prickly shrub with soft green leaves and yellow and purple flower. Some Aboriginal people in Alice Spring together with guests often go out to bush with coolamon and digging sticks to collect bush sultana and other bush foods.
Audrey Martin Napanangka is a very experienced and well-known designer. Bush Sultana is a very popular fabric. Audrey, being a collector and gatherer, often goes to the bush with her friends and relatives and sometimes she accompanies tourists. She loves nature and bush foods.