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Berries - Bush Tucker

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Aboriginal Tourism - Indigenous Australia - Iconography and Symbols
The dotted motifs of much of today’s Aboriginal modern design work has become the trademark of the contemporary Aboriginal Art movement. Its iconic status developed from a culture stretching back into the history of an ancient land, evolving and weaving into desert dreamtime stories.

Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for many thousands of years. One of the secrets to their success was their knowledge of nature and ‘bush food’ (‘bush tucker’). Throughout Australia, different plants have been identified as edible by the Indigenous Australian's over many thousands of years. Among the many plants are many species of bush berries gathered by Aboriginal women and forming a staple part of their diet. Identifying the plants and knowing the plants lifecycle of flowering and fruiting formed part of the knowledge that is past down from elders to children.

Plants that produced edible berries are depicted in many Aboriginal art work, some specifically identified such as sultanas and bush tomatoes, whilst others are just rendered as ‘bush berries’ encompassing the full range of edible berried plants.

Berries (Bush Food /  Bush Tucker)

Bush Berry (Bush Tucker) - Aboriginal Symbols, Icons and Imagery

SymbolsBush TuckerBerry Bush BananaGoannaHoney AntsWitchetty GrubsWildlife

Bush Berries © June Sultan

Bush Tomatoes © Trephina Sultan
Bush Berries (Bush Food) © Audrey Rubuntja
Bush Berries © Audrey Rubuntja
Bush Berries
Bush berries as depicted in Aboriginal art include a number of edible plants such as the Bush Tomato, Wild Orange, sultana, plum, etc.

Indigenous artists may depict them as closely as possible to the real plants, whilst others render them in a stylised form. Some artists may vary the colour to reference to the overall painting, whilst others follow the traditional depiction of berries by their elders or other family members.

Check out our information on the Bush Tomato family, Quandong, Wild Orange and Native Fig (Rock Fig).

Akudjura • Bush Tomato
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. centrale
Language Name
English name: Bush tomato, bush raisin, bush sultana
Arrernte name: Merne akatyerre (the Arrernte term ‘merne’ means ‘fruit or nut’).
Eastern Arrernte: Awele-awele, Alperrantyeye.
Alyawarr name: Akatjurra, Akudjurra, Akajura, Akadjura
Pitjantjatjara: Kampurarpa, Kampurrarpa, Kutjera
The fruit are a tiny tomato-like berry, which turn from green to yellow when ripe. When purchased commercially in the dried form, either whole or ground, the fruit appear as a brownish-red colour with a taste that is similar to caramelized sun-dried tomatoes.
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